SPP to receive more taxpayer's funds

Fresh from receiving a $36 million annual subsidy from the Federal Government for its oil shale project in Queensland, Southern Pacific Petroleum (SPP) is to be the recipient of more taxpayer largesse.

Last week, SPP notified the market that it would receive a grant to jointly fund a pilot study into investigating the feasibility of developing Australia's full-scale woody biomass to ethanol facility.

The $96,800 grant has been made under the Commonwealth's 'New Industries Development Program' and will be supplemented by an additional investment of $232,000 by SPP.

SPP told the stock exchange that the funds will be used to allow the company to generate a wide range of design data which, in conjunction with organisations with global experience in ethanol production, to assess in detail the commercial and technical viability of a full-scale plant.

SPP said in a statement that the use of ethanol as a liquid transport fuel would help reduce greenhouse gases. "An ethanol production facility would also provide a significant environmental benefit, not at least being the production of a fuel with relatively low greenhouse emissions," SPP said.

However, the proposed ethanol plant is to be located next to SPP's expanding Gladstone facility, which according to one commentator is a "greenhouse belcher".

As for the Gladstone facility itself, according to a leaked document released by the Labor Party, the Australian Greenhouse Office opposed the Federal Government's decision to extend the $36 million annual subsidy.