Is Indonesia’s biofuel safe?

Indonesia's notorious biofuel

Finding diesel is always a challenge in new places. But Indonesia’s notorious biofuel makes it even more confusing. We hope this post about biodiesel will help to answer some of your questions.

Finding a safe parking space ashore

In Indonesia, solar is still used as a generic term for diesel. But it’s also a brand name from Pertamina, the largest fuel supplier in he country.

Indonesia's notorious biofuelSolar originally meant undiluted diesel, and we were of the impression that it was still the best fuel for our engine. But it turns out this is old information, because nowadays all diesel brands in Indonesia are biofuels.

Indonesia's notorious biofuel

Loading the dinghy

What is now known as solar is the cheapest fuel you can buy, but it is only officially available to fishermen and the Navy. And it’s the impurest of them all! Solar has the lowest octane (or cetane) count at 48, compared to Dex’s count of 53.

Indonesia's notorious biofuel

Pertamina’s three diesels

All diesel from Indonesia contains palm oil

All diesel must now contain 30% palm oil, so whether you choose the cheapest Solar or the most expensive Dex, you are going to be stuck with biofuel.
To help clarify the differences between each Pertamina brand, the old Solar has been renamed Biosolar.

The jury’s out on whether biodiesel from palm oil is bad for your engine. Some studies have shown that it’s not kind to traditional diesel engines. But Pertamina claims Dex (its premium brand) has a number of additives which protect the engine.

We’re still having the conversation about whether we should be buying anything with palm oil in it. We don’t want to dive into that nuanced debate here, it can wait for another day!

A word to the wise: whichever type of diesel you decide to put in your engine, please keep an eye on your fuel filters. They need changing far more frequently than you are used to in most other countries.

For the full episode, and a fun animation of the different types of diesel, check out episode 334 on our sailing channel.

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