Hanoi: Vietnamese catfish processor and exporter Agifish plans to turn catfish fat into fuel to run diesel engines, a company official said yesterday.

"We are planning to commercialise the fuel based on the result of pilot tests," Agifish Deputy Director Nguyen Dinh Huan said. Huan said Agifish has been using the fuel, made from fat left over from processing, to run pumps at its fish ponds in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang in southern Vietnam.

"The fuel is as good as diesel oil," he said. He said samples of the catfish fuel had been sent for tests at laboratories in Ho Chi Minh City for quality checks and government approval.

The state-run Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper yesterday quoted Ho Xuan Thien, the chief engineer of the project, as saying the firm planned to build a 10,000-tonne-per-year factory in 2007 to mass produce the fuel for domestic markets.

Thien said a kilogramme of catfish fat could produce 1.13 litres of biofuel. Vietnam produces around 30,000 tonnes of catfish annually, mainly for exports to the United States and Europe.