How tea tree oils are being made into a popular oil tanker
In the U.S., tea tree is the dominant oil crop, with about one-third of the world’s oil production.
But in countries like the Philippines, the tree’s popularity has been under-reported.
And that is changing.
In recent years, a growing number of Filipinos have begun to buy tea tree seeds from companies like the Uro Corporation, a joint venture of Exxon Mobil and Philippine state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela.
The seeds, which are shipped by air, are sold as oil tanker oil.
Oil tanker oil is sold in many countries as a replacement for gasoline and diesel, which is why it’s so popular.
It’s also why a recent petition to the United Nations World Food Program to include tea tree as a food safety indicator has attracted more than 11,000 signatures.
In a country where more than three-quarters of the population are poor and most are illiterate, this is a huge opportunity for farmers to earn a living.
“People are more and more willing to buy the oil for their food,” says Cesar G. Alva, the executive director of the Philippine Environmental Action Network.
“The more they can get it for themselves, the more they’re going to be able to sell it to the market.”
The problem is that the oil is usually shipped by oil tanker from the Philippines to China.
“It takes them around two weeks to get the oil out,” says Alva.
“And then they have to go back to China, and then the oil goes back to the Philippines.”
This process takes three to four months, depending on the size of the shipment, according to Alva and other farmers.
“We’re doing this in a very dangerous environment,” he says.
“Our land is on the top of the river, and we have no way of knowing where the oil might end up.”
In some areas, tea tree seedlings are planted in shallow ponds or planted in fields, making it easier to get it out.
Alvas and other local farmers say the seeds are not a problem.
In a few cases, the seeds have been planted, but not fully developed.
“The soil in our areas is not particularly good for tea tree,” says Gavriel Mariano, a farmer in the southern Philippines city of Marawi.
“There are no trees, and it’s difficult to grow.”
In the northern part of the country, the situation is much worse.
“A lot of these trees are planted as seedlings,” says Maude C. Santos, a botanist at the Department of Agriculture.
“When the tree matures, it takes up a lot of soil.”
The seeds are often grown by local farmers, who do not have the time or money to plant them.
“They need to take advantage of these things and grow them,” Santos says.
Tea tree seeds can also be used as fertilizer, and they are often sprayed on the tops of trees in the region.
The process can be difficult to do, and the seeds cannot be properly labeled as oil, because they are not labeled.
But Alva says he has found the process to be a valuable investment.
“In the beginning, we would have to pick them up and sell them,” he explains.
“Now, we have a lot to sell.”
In fact, many of the farmers he spoke with say they would have preferred to see the oil from the plant used as a fuel for their vehicles rather than as a source of income.
“I don’t think we can use the oil in cars,” Santos said.
“But I can buy it as fertilizer.”
In response to the growing interest in the oil tanker, the Uros Corporation has expanded its marketing of oil tanker products, including in the Philippines.
It now offers the seeds as a substitute for gasoline in several countries, including the Philippines and China.
In 2017, the company expanded the offer to include gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel.
“I think the people have gotten more accustomed to using oil tanker for food as a supplement to gasoline,” Alva said.
Alvaro Aguirre, a Filipino farmer and tea tree farmer who has lived in the United States for nearly 30 years, says he is happy about the shift.
“Oil tanker is a big opportunity for us, because there is no other option,” he said.
Aguirre says that his family is already doing well.
He says he’s already started planting tea tree trees in his backyard, and is making plans to plant more tea tree in the future.
“This is a good opportunity for me, and for all of us who are working for the country,” he added.