Posts Tagged ‘ethanol’

US ethanol’s dog days of summer

The increasingly stagnant US ethanol market is getting downright weird. Remember the first four months of 2014 when wild volatility was rampant and almost expected in the market?

With the benchmark Platts Chicago Argo ethanol assessment, we hit a 2014 low of $1.78/gal one quiet January day. Throw some ice and railroad logistics issues into the mix, and that price more than doubled in a matter of two months, hitting an eight-year high of $3.76/gal on March 31.

That seems like such a long time ago now.

Read the rest of this entry »

The political calculations of ethanol in Iowa and in Washington

Conventional political wisdom has held that given Iowa’s importance in US presidential contests as host of the first-in-the-nation nominating caucuses, the Renewable Fuel Standard is pretty much unassailable.

The federal biofuels mandate enjoys immense bipartisan support in the state, where corn is king.

Candidates hoping to curry favor with state voters would need to wholeheartedly endorse the RFS or at least pay lip service to the law while campaigning there. Iowa, after all, leads the nation in biofuels production, with 41 ethanol plants in the state, along with 18 biodiesel facilities.

But, if RFS opponents are to be believed, the political landscape could be changing.

Read the rest of this entry »

Letter from California: What’s missing in the LCFS, and C&T on the horizon for fuels

Here are a few observations after two days in Sacramento — and on the phone — talking about the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard and the arrival of the state’s cap-and-trade law into the fuels market on New Year’s Day 2015.

Read the rest of this entry »

Refinery change leaves Louisiana boaters high and dry in gasoline search

The ExxonMobil-operated Chalmette Refinery will no longer distribute ethanol-free gas from the rack, a move that is making it more difficult for Louisiana boaters to find compatible fuel for their boats.

In early May, the Chalmette Refinery in St. Bernard Parish announced that it would no longer distribute ethanol-free (conventional) gasoline to the local rack. The 200,700 b/d refinery had previously been the largest resource of ethanol-free gasoline for the area, with many area businesses purchasing fuel from the rack, a local distribution terminal. ExxonMobil, the operator and co-owner of the refinery with PDVSA, continues to sell to the commercial market, but acknowledges that the local market is affected by the change at the rack. The decision was pushed through in an effort to “better comply with the EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standards,” said Patrick Trahan, a spokesman for the refinery.

Read the rest of this entry »

RINs eerily calm ahead of imminent storm

Biofuels RINs prices haven’t been misbehaving like they did last year.

After exploding onto the scene and becoming one of the most volatile commodities on the planet in 2013, those once-pesky RINs have been strangely subdued. The calm before the storm is especially peculiar alongside a rapidly growing confidence that the storm is imminent.

Read the rest of this entry »

“Maddening” US ethanol prices mimic RINs volatility

US ethanol prices in 2014 have become what RINs were in 2013 — volatile and downright wacky.

In the opening three months of 2013, biofuels RINs went from the nerdy kid in freshman biology to a menacing and eccentric upper-classman that scared all the other kids in the cafeteria. The previously lesser-known renewable credits generated by physical gallons of biofuels became a household name of infamy as finger-pointing linked them to rising prices at the pump.

And if there’s one thing an array of industries, commodities, and political dealings have learned over the years, you don’t mess with prices at the pump.

Read the rest of this entry »

A different perspective on getting through the ethanol blendwall

Anna Temple of WoodMac tried at the annual AFPM meeting to put one aspect of the ethanol issue into a highly consumable number: eight.

The Houston-based downstream consultant, in one part of her presentation, said the Renewable Fuel Standard going forward could still trip up refiners, but she also addressed whether E85 has a part to play in meeting the ever-rising mandates set under RFS2.

Read the rest of this entry »

Upping the Ante: US ethanol’s leadership sets out its stall after 2013’s setbacks

That the CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association would come out fighting after the 2013 annus horribilis was to be expected. When Bob Dinneen, a man they’ve come to call the Reverend in these parts because of his full throttle evangelisin’ on the blendstock’s position in the USA, took the stage to deliver the keynote opening address to the 2014 National Ethanol Conference last week, the packed auditorium knew broadly what to expect.

Read the rest of this entry »

Baby it’s cold inside…thanks to…

The recent polar vortices sweeping down from Canada have frozen much of the US to its core over the past month, driving home heating costs through the (drafty) roof, across the Midwest, Northeast and now the Southeast.

But the bugbear behind the dangerously tight natural gas market may come as a surprise to many. Sure, we’re exporting more NGLs and the frigid temperatures are eating away at stocks. That is free markets and good old fashioned supply and demand fundamentals at work, right?

Read the rest of this entry »

Regulation & Environment: EPA action on 2014 renewable fuel standard didn’t end the process

When the Environmental Protection Agency released modification in the 2014 application of the renewable fuel standard, it was only the start of the process. The lobbying still goes on, as Herman Wang discusses in this week’s Oilgram News column, Regulation & Environment.

Read the rest of this entry »