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Bougainville - Oils Ain't Oils -

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It's a tough life for the residents of Buka and other parts of Bougainville. The autonomous region is still recovering from a decade-long civil war that ended in the late 1990s. Its day-to-day living here and the people rely heavily on imports, especially fuel.

It's expensive

and it's not uncommon for vehicles and generators to run dry

before a new shipment arrives. But there is something going on in this place that's taking the ouch out of the oil price. In fact, it's such a slick idea it's got the locals turning their backs on the imported stuff. Around here, money might not grow on trees,

but the next best thing does. DULL THUD Forget drilling and start picking. oil comes from above. What usually slips down the gullet is now being tipped into the tank. So, here we got the raw material - that's the copra and it goes into the primary crusher. It just makes it easier to feed through the secondary crusher when then expels the oil and then it comes flowing out, right out of these gaps here.

From Betzdorf in Germany to Buka in Papua New Guinea. Matthias Horn just loves coconuts. And, then, right into the feeder presses here, which take all the bits and pieces out of the oil and, then, into this holding tank system here,

which are settling the oil for any other sediment. And, after two weeks' time, we can use it straight away in our cars. They sometimes refer to me as the mad German because how can you do that to your car, filling it with some coconut juice, which you normally fry your fish in.

In this shed in the middle of the Bougainville jungle, coconuts are squeezed and strained with such a force that engines don't know the difference between pure coconut oil and diesel. The coconut tree is a beautiful tree. It's like doesn't it sound good if you really run your car on something which falls off a tree, and that's the good thing about it, huh? You run a car and it smells nice and it's environmentally friendly and that's the good thing. Matthias Horn and his wife, Carol, have spent the past three years extracting oil from locally grown coconuts to use in engines. The idea is not new. Locals tried the same thing during the war, with limited success. It's only now the concept of putting coconut oil in the tank instead of diesel is gaining momentum on Bougainville.

It's much cheaper and it's a sustainable resource. The number of cars, trucks, tractors and other engines running on the stuff is on the rise. Give us you best coconut. Fill her up!

She'll probably only take 25.

New Zealand policeman Kevin Riordan is assisting the Bougainville force. His fuel bill has dropped by a third since switching to coconut oil.

There's no difference in the performance.

You don't have to do anything different than you do to a diesel engine. You just fill it up with coconut oil instead of diesel. And, as you can see, it's smooth - I'm in fourth gear - and I can take it up to a 100km no problem at all. For the people of Bougainville it's a God send. Well, Father Henry Saris thinks so, anyway. It comes from up top - everything, all blessings, come from up top, but the coconut really is the tree of life here. As long as you have coconuts you will survive.

Father Saris converted to coconut fuel three years ago and won't hear a bad word against it. What if on a Sunday morning you are running late for a service? Can you put your foot down and it gets you there on time? It doesn't make any difference. There were people in my car here who didn't even realise that the car was running on coconut oil.

But you'd notice the difference in the more southerly parts of Australia

because the car simply wouldn't go. Pure coconut oil solidifies at a certain temperature. Here, in Buka, the oil freezes up at around 27 degrees. Once the temperature dips below that,

such as in the higher reaches of Bougainville.

Then, other fossil fuels, like diesel, need to be added to make the engine run. The colder the climate, the bigger the mix of diesel. Still, Matthias and Carol Horn hope the clear, sweet aroma of coconuts will, one day, replace the black oily smoke of diesel fumes. We have an export licence but we have not exported any fuel yet.

We have had a couple of enquires from outside - Australia and Iran. Iran? Yes, Iran. A couple of emails from Iran inquiring about the fuel. So, I was wondering what they wanted with the fuel because they already have enough fuel. Carol and Matthias Horn say they're in it for the long haul. The daily 2-hour drive to the factory

gives Matthias Horn ample time to dream up ways

of making coconut fuel a viable option world wide. That's when all these thoughts get developed,

then, I pull out the calculator and the piece of paper and I put these thoughts. Then, I have a beer over it and, then, another beer over it and after three beers you have really good ideas, eh. Then you keep on going - not drinking the beer but with the ideas - and then we develop.

And there'll be no selling out to major oil companies either. The Horn factory is providing many jobs for people affected by the war. It's very important we come up with more revenue-raising options and fuel is an example,

instead of spending money outside getting in fuel, we try to make it here.

Coconut oil might just be the tonic to kick-start Bougainville's economy and get the region moving forward once again.