About John Davis

Domestic Fuel welcomes our newest blogger, John Davis. John is a 20 years+ veteran of traditional news and is getting his first taste of this "new media." We've known John since Chuck hired him to work at the Brownfield Network in January, 2000 after he served an 11 year stint in the U.S. Air Force as a broadcast journalist. John lives in Jefferson City, Missouri with his wife, two sons, two dogs, a cat, a mouse, and a fish! You can read more about him and his thoughts at his own website John C. Davis Online.

The Andersons Launches Campaign on Diveristy

TheAndersonLogoGrain, ethanol, and plant nutrient company The Andersons is emphasizing the diversity it brings to agribusiness. This news release from the Ohio-based company says its new brand campaign “And Beyond” includes a refresh to the corporate website www.andersonsinc.com and associated promotional materials.

“The ‘And Beyond’ campaign builds on the equity of the previous ‘And’ theme that we’ve had in place for about six years,” says Tom Waggoner, Vice President, Marketing and Operations Services. “This campaign provides a fresh perspective that keeps our brand moving forward. The theme highlights that The Andersons goes beyond the ordinary with our market expertise and beyond expectations in the strong relationships we form.”

With various business groups operating in 21 states across the country, the “And Beyond” campaign reflects The Andersons as a diversified, yet united, company. Although serving diversified industries, the business groups share a strong commitment to grow enduring relationships through extraordinary service, a deep knowledge of the market and a knack for finding new ways to add value as the company has done for nearly 70 years.

In addition to the ag sector businesses, The Andersons is also involved in railcar leasing, turf and cob products, and consumer retailing.

Policy Uncertainty Shrinks US Biodiesel Market

nbb-advancedThe U.S. biodiesel market was a bit smaller in 2014, and policy uncertainty in Washington is being blamed for the decrease. The National Biodiesel Board says the destabilization of the industry, including the Obama Administration’s failure to finalize biodiesel volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and Congress allowing the biodiesel tax incentive to lapse at the beginning of 2014, caused many biodiesel plants to shut down or reduce production, dropping total U.S. biodiesel consumption to 1.75 billion gallons for the year, down slightly from nearly 1.8 billion gallons in 2013.

“These numbers reflect the consequences of policy inaction,” said Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board (NBB), the industry trade association. “The drop in production represents lost jobs and economic activity. It represents a lost opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants. And it represents another year in which we fail to tackle our dangerous dependence on oil in the fuels sector.”

“The numbers would have been even lower had the EPA not signaled throughout the year that it will strengthen the RFS proposal and finalize it promptly,” Jobe said. “But companies can operate on faith for only so long. We have already seen many producers close their doors, and many others are struggling to stay open as we enter a New Year with continued uncertainty.”

Jobe went on to say that it’s frustrating because it is completely unnecessary and urged the Obama administration and Congress to put smart policies back in place.

Regulators Urged to Rethink Corn Ethanol’s Carbon Value

ace logoRegulators are being urged to re-think corn ethanol’s carbon value. In a news release from the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), the group’s President of its board of directors, Ron Alverson, reveals in a white paper how corn ethanol’s carbon footprint is decreasing, thanks to technology innovations by farmers and ethanol facilities to improve the accuracy of carbon intensity modeling for biofuels.

“ANL scientists have documented significant reductions in corn ethanol’s CI since 2008. Through updates to the Greenhouse gases Regulated Emissions and Energy use in Transportation (GREET version 2.0, 2013) model, ANL recently determined that average ethanol manufacturing energy use has decreased 25%, corn farming energy use decreased 24%, corn fertilizer and chemical use decreased by 3%, and that ethanol facilities are extracting 3% more ethanol from each bushel of corn. ANL has also updated their Land Use Change (LUC) calculations with recent data and now estimate LUC of just 7.6 grams of CI, a 75% reduction from the widely used and outdated estimate of 30 grams CI. A significant portion of this reduction resulted from soil carbon modeling which predicts soil carbon sequestration from corn,” Alverson notes in the White Paper.

“Unfortunately, low carbon fuel market regulators, such as the U.S. EPA and the California Air Resources Board, have yet to acknowledge these improvements and update their models with this new science,” continues Alverson. “Because fossil fuel CI is getting worse and corn ethanol CI is improving, failure to account for these trends unfairly penalizes biofuels in low carbon markets.”

Alverson, a farmer and founding board member of an ethanol facility in South Dakota cited new research and improved modeling by the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory. He argues that “corn farmers have responded to market signals and rapidly adopted precision application technology to reduced fertilizer application rates,” new realities those regulators need to now consider.

Nat. Gas Inventories Up, Wind to Lead Renewables in 2015

eiaNatural gas inventories are up dramatically from last winter, and wind is expected to lead renewable energy capacity additions in the coming year. Those are just a couple of findings in the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) latest Short-Term Energy Outlook. EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski says those prices for natural gas have also dropped to two-year lows as growing domestic natural gas production has bolstered the inventories.

“Natural gas inventories at the end of the winter heating season in late March should be about 9 billion cubic feet above the five-year average, much higher than the same time last year when inventories were approaching 1 trillion cubic feet below normal.”

Sieminski adds that following nearly two years of relatively moderate generation capacity growth for renewables, wind power will be the clear leader in utility-scale renewable capacity additions in 2015.

“About 11 gigawatts of wind capacity is expected to enter service in 2015, the second-highest level of generating capacity that the wind industry has ever added in a given year.”

The EIA report goes on to say that petroleum producers continue to see dropping prices for crude oil and many oil companies have cut back on their exploration drilling in response. However, petroleum production is still expected to climb in 2015, as those producers concentrate drilling activities in established areas that already have productive wells.

Iowa Biodiesel, Ethanol Marketers Recognized

iowaag3The Iowa Department of Agriculture honors some ethanol and biodiesel marketers in the state. Mark McKinley and Galen Barker from Fuel Time in St. Ansgar and Steve Neuendorf from Farmers Win Cooperative in Fredericksburg are the 2015 winners of the Secretary’s Ethanol and Biodiesel Marketing Awards, recognizing fuel marketers who have gone above and beyond in their efforts to promote and sell renewable fuels.

“Fuel Time in St. Ansgar and Farmers Win Cooperative in Fredericksburg have made it a priority to make biodiesel and ethanol more available to Iowa drivers and promote these home-grown fuels,” [Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill] Northey said.

The Secretary’s Ethanol and Biodiesel Marketing Awards were designed to recognize businesses that market the renewable fuels they have available through creative efforts including, but not limited to: hosting special events highlighting their renewable fuels, development of creative signage, initiation of new advertisements or marketing efforts, and dramatically increase renewable fuel availability…

Fuel Time sources its ethanol from the local ethanol plant and passes the saving on to customers, and the result has been that on several occasion it offered the lowest priced fuel in the country.

The facilities at the Fuel Time station were recently remodeled and they have had a number of events promoting E15 and higher blends of ethanol at the site. In response to their aggressive promotion and competitive pricing of renewable fuels, monthly sales show that E85 sales are typically equal to or greater than E10 sales…

Farmers Win Cooperative, under Neuendorf’s leadership, has made it a priority to give customers a choice at the pump, including access to higher blends of biodiesel. Farmers Win has installed a biodiesel blender pump that in spring thru fall offers a clear #2 diesel as well as blends of 10 percent (B10), 20 percent (B20), 30 percent (B30), and 50 percent (B50). They now offer these products in Burr Oak and Fredericksburg.

The winners were announced and recognized during the Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Stores of Iowa Annual Meeting in Des Moines on Jan. 13th.

Hydro Dynamics’ 98% Ethanol Race Car Featured on PBS

HDIusethanolcar1A race car that runs on a 98 percent blend of ethanol was recently featured on the PBS TV show Farm Connections. The US Ethanol Race Car is sponsored by Hydro Dynamics, Inc. of Rome, Georgia, the developer of a patented cavitation process intensification technology called the ShockWave Power Reactor (SPR), enabling customers to solve critical mixing and heating problems.

Beginning this year HDI sponsored the US Ethanol car by Olmscheid Racing. Olmscheid Racing, based in Elrosa, MN, competes in the Midwest. The HDI logo is prominently displayed on the hood and provides excellent brand awareness in the heart of the ethanol industry of the Shock Wave Power Reactor (SPR) cavitation technology.

The SPR has several ethanol applications including yield enhancement, increased production of corn oil, cellulosic ethanol and the conversion of extracted corn oil to biodiesel. HDI’s extensive renewable energy portfolio also includes biogas, conventional biodiesel and algae oil extraction. The sponsorship has been a great way to draw attention to our ethanol initiatives including our new bolt-on biodiesel plants to convert corn oil to biodiesel.

More information about the process is available at www.hydrodynamics.com.

TruMarx Offers Biodiesel and RINs Transactions on COMET

COMETTruMarx Data Partners is now offering biodiesel and renewable identification numbers (RINs) transactions on COMET, the energy industry’s on-demand platform for custom bilateral OTC transactions.

COMET now supports direct bilateral transactions for biodiesel and assigned RINs, separated D4 RINs, and RIN-less biodiesel (wet gallons). This new capability allows users to:

• Electronically and confidentially structure their transaction to include important product details such as quality, certification, blend, facility info, delivery details, Q-RIN designation, QAP provider, etc.
• Publish the structure to any pre-screened COMET counterparts via a one-to-many request for price.
• Negotiate the terms of the transaction via multiple one-to-one confidential negotiations until the originator accepts or rejects a particular transaction.
• Receive an automated transaction confirmation with full transaction details.
• Generate a comprehensive transaction audit trail to help meet a variety of audit and regulatory compliance standards.

“We are excited to introduce this new biodiesel transaction capability for COMET. It will allow active traders in this important energy category to enjoy the tremendous benefits that COMET provides”, said Jon Olson, Founder, President and CEO. “Our customers have asked for this platform and we are excited to deliver”, said Mr. Olson.

TruMarx says this new biodiesel/RINs capability will offer many benefits for users, including reducing fraudulent transaction concerns, increasing market transparency and scope, allowing self-service price discovery, and making it overall easier for users with on-line and on-demand access.

First Biodiesel Testing Lab in Southeast to Open

ABTechThe first lab for testing biodiesel in the Southeastern United States is set to open in Asheville, North Carolina. This article from the Asheville Citizen-Times says it is opening at the Enka campus of Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College.

Researchers at the lab “will provide convenient, cost-effective testing of biodiesel to assure quality products are going to market,” said Sam Brake, of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture Bioenergy Research Initiative in Oxford.

“Consumers will be assured they’re getting high-quality product,” said Brake, who added that the state Department of Agriculture awarded the project a $150,000 grant. “Long-term, it should help boost demand and help boost production.”

“Having a lab here decreases the testing-turnaround time so it increases biofuel companies’ ability to release batches (of fuel for customers),” said Sarah Schober, senior director of A-B Tech’s BioNetwork, a program throughout the North Carolina community college system that focuses on biotechnology and life sciences.

The school donated $60,000 to the project.

World’s First Wood-to-Biodiesel Plant Running

UPMlogoThe world’s first biorefinery to turn wood into renewable diesel has opened in Finland. UPM says its Lappeenranta biorefinery is now in commercial production, turning out about 30 million gallons of the green fuel a year.

“Lappeenranta Biorefinery is the first significant investment in a new and innovative production facility in Finland during the ongoing transformation of the forest industry. It is also a focal part in the implementation of our company’s Biofore transformation strategy,” saysHeikki Vappula, Executive Vice President, UPM Biorefining.

“The production process works as planned and the high quality end product, UPM BioVerno diesel, fulfils customer specifications. The start-up phase of the biorefinery began in early autumn, and it has included customary new process and production related challenges. The biorefinery is first of its kind in the world. We are now happy to move forward from start-up phase and be able to concentrate on regular production process”, says Petri Kukkonen, Head of UPM Biofuels business.

A lot of the feedstock, a residue of wood pulp production, is produced at UPM’s own pulp mills in Finland. UPM says its BioVerno renewable diesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 80 per cent compared to traditional diesel.

New Biodiesel Plant Owner Wants to Re-Open It

glb-logoSpeculation over the new owner of the Great Lakes Biodiesel plant in Welland, Ontario, Canada is over, as Luxembourg-based Heridge SARL has been announced as the winner of a bidding process. And the Welland Tribune reports the new owner is vowing to re-open the $50 million refinery.

“The big message that came out is that they’re not buying this operation in order to take it apart and sell it. They’re not interesting in scrapping it,” [Welland Mayor Frank] Campion said. “They want to make it work. They have money invested in it and they will invest more money in it.”

In early October, the plant went into receivership as a result of court action by Heridge, which said in court it was only repaid half of a $20-million loan used to get the Welland plant off the ground in 2012.

According to court documents and a former employee, Great Lakes Biodiesel was unable to become financially viable largely because it couldn’t secure $65 million in federal funding it was expected to get through Natural Resource Canada.

The new owners are saying that federal funding will be critical in order for them to make the plant successful.

US Ethanol Exports Hit High, DDGS Drop in Nov.

RFANewlogoExports of U.S. ethanol hit a nearly three-year high, while shipments of dried distillers grains (DDGS) slipped in November of 2014. In a piece from Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) Senior Vice President Geoff Cooper, the biggest share of the 90.9 million gallons of ethanol, a 15 percent increase from just a month earlier, went to India and a couple of customers in the Western Hemisphere.

India was the top destination for U.S. product in November, receiving 27.6 mg, or 30% of total shipments. Canada and Brazil were other top customers for the month. Year-to-date exports through November stood at 760.2 mg, implying an annualized total for calendar year 2014 of 829.3 mg.

In a reversal from historical trends, shipments of undenatured fuel ethanol accounted for the majority of November exports. Undenatured fuel ethanol exports totaled 65.9 mg, an all-time monthly record and up 143% from October. India was the leading importer of undenatured product at 27.6 mg, followed by Brazil at 17.0 mg and South Korea at 6.1 mg. The volumes shipped to India and South Korea represented the largest-ever monthly volumes sent to those markets. The Philippines (5.4 mg) and Nigeria (3.3 mg) were other top destinations for undenatured fuel ethanol…

November exports of U.S. distillers dried grains (DDGS)—the animal feed co-product manufactured by dry mill ethanol plants—slid 19% from October to their lowest monthly level since March 2013. The decrease in November DDGS exports was reflective of the continued collapse of the Chinese market. Total DDGS exports for the month were 631,721 metric tons (mt), with Mexico (127,189 mt), Turkey (103,331 mt), and Canada (64,186 mt) again occupying the top three positions. After importing an average of 539,000 mt per month from March to August, China took in just 4,689 mt in November. Still, year-to-date DDGS exports stood at 10.59 million mt, meaning the U.S. achieved a new annual export record in 2014.

At the same time, U.S. ethanol imports hit a five-month high in November, but RFA officials say the numbers were still relatively low at just 4.9 million gallons. Year-to-date 2014 imports through November were just 72.4 million gallons, implying an annualized total of nearly 79.0 million gallons.

Algae.Tec to Expand Biodiesel Ops into China

algaeteclogoAustralia-based Algae.Tec will bring its algae-biodiesel technology into China. This story from Proactive Investors says Algae.Tec will issue a $500,000 convertible bond to China Finance Strategies Investment Holdings (CFS), with another $5 million in conditional options to come.

CFS has extensive relationships in China with its key executives having completed over 250 fundraising and advisory transactions in Greater China Region and invested in over 20 projects involving around US$1.5 billion.

Both companies will jointly explore commercial scale opportunities for Algae.Tec’s technology across Greater China incorporating the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.

Algae.Tec expects its algae based renewable fuel and carbon capture technology to play a meaningful role in contributing to the Strategic Targets China has set for itself.

The potential for biodiesel projects could be helped by a recent U.S.-China agreement on greenhouse gas emission targets.

Market Challenges, Fed Policy Talk at Biodiesel Conf.

2015biodieselconflogo1World energy market challenges and federal policies have had some major impacts on the biodiesel industry as 2014 closed out. That’s why this month, as a new year begins, attendees of the annual National Biodiesel Conference and Expo, January 19 – 22 at the Fort Worth Convention Center in Texas, will talk about what the petroleum glut and the delay of federal renewable fuels volume requirements for gas and diesel mean for biodiesel.

“With a new Congress convening in Washington, DC, promising significant new legislation aimed at biofuels and the energy sector, it just makes sense that we will be highlighting some of these same issues in the heart of the of domestic oil and gas industry,” said Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board (NBB).

[E]nergy policy will be front-and-center of the discussions, with state and federal experts on all sides of the issue presenting their views and expectations.

Of particular importance to biofuel producers is the fate of the Renewable Fuel Standard, the federal policy enacted under President George W. Bush with bipartisan support that ensures minimum volumes of biodiesel and other renewables are blended into the fuel supply. The year ended clouded in controversy as the EPA never finalized a rule for 2014’s volume requirements.

“Without a rule in place,” Jobe said, “biodiesel producers are hesitant to invest in their businesses and employees. In some cases, the uncertainty over the EPA potentially scaling back volume requirements has led some producers to shutter plants and lay off staff. The industry needs confidence that the federal government is committed to advanced biofuels and supportive of our growth.”

The 12th annual conference and expo also includes:

An opportunity for attendees and the public to test biodiesel vehicles at a unique ride-and-drive experience;
Automakers and fleets will display their latest cars and trucks at the vehicle showcase;
Texas fleet managers will share their experiences with biodiesel and how it’s making a difference in the Lone Star State;
A session on biodiesel infused heating oil shaking up the industry, and much, much more.

But energy policy will be front-and-center of the discussions, with state and federal experts on all sides of the issue presenting their views and expectations.

More information and registration is available at biodieselconference.org.

Fed Policy Blamed for Iowa Biodiesel Production Dip

IowaRFAlogoThe nation’s leader in biodiesel production remained that way in 2014, but federal policy is being blamed for Iowa’s dip from 2013’s record biodiesel numbers. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) says the state’s biodiesel production was 227 million gallons in 2014, down slightly from the 2013 record of 230 million gallons.

For the vast majority of 2014, Congress allowed the federal biodiesel blenders tax credit to expire, renewing it only in mid-December, too late to spur meaningful demand. At the same time, the EPA went through the entire year without setting a biodiesel number for the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). That one-two punch led to a nationwide biodiesel production reduction. Due to Iowa’s state-level biodiesel production tax credit, producers in Iowa were able to essentially maintain production in the face of the federal uncertainty.

“Iowa continues to lead in the production of biodiesel,” stated IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “Not surprisingly, the lapse of the federal biodiesel credit and uncertainty over EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard proposal resulted in an industry slow down. Due to favorable state policies, Iowa was able to weather the storm better than most states.”

Shaw says federal uncertainty still hangs over 2015, but if a strong and growing RFS and a multi-year federal biodiesel tax credit extension is renewed, he believes the biodiesel industry would take a strong step forward.

Bidding Ends on Ontario Biodiesel Plant

glb-logoAfter about a month on the auction block, the bidding period has ended for an Ontario, Canada biodiesel plant. But this article from the Welland (ON) Tribune says it will take a few days to see who gets the $50-million Great Lakes Biodiesel refinery.

In early October, the plant went into receivership as a result of court action by Luxembourg-based investment company Heridge SARL, which said in court it was only repaid half of a $20-million loan used to get GLB’s Welland plant off the ground.

In November, all of the assets of Great Lakes Biodiesel, including the Welland refinery and offices in Toronto, as well as other associated companies, were put up for sale in an open auction.

That bidding closed at 10 a.m. Wednesday, but Heridge SARL was the only bidder that could be confirmed. It submitted an initial offer that would have had to be beaten in order for the company to lose the sale.

A manager at GLB’s Welland facility said Wednesday he wasn’t authorized to speak about the plant or the bidding and directed all calls to KPMG. An official with KMPG, which is handling the GLB receivership proceedings, said he had been advised not to speak with the media.

City officials would only say they have a meeting scheduled this coming Monday with Heridge officials.

Whoever wins the bid will get a biodiesel ready to get back on line practically immediately.