FAPRI: Biodiesel, Ethanol Feedstocks Bigger than Expected

FAPRI logoA new report shows that the main feedstocks for biodiesel and ethanol, soybeans and corn, are going to have bigger harvests than previously expected. The Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri says while the big crops will push prices for those feedstocks down – even further down than what was projected just a couple of weeks ago – soybean and corn prices will recover a bit as markets adjust.

- Larger corn and soybean crops translate into lower projected 2014/15 prices for many grains and oilseeds. Corn prices drop to $3.50 per bushel, soybeans to $9.92 per bushel… In all … cases, these projected prices are close to the midpoint of the price ranges reported in the September USDA World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates.

– Larger crops in 2014/15 also result in larger beginning stocks and total crop supplies in 2015/16. As a result, corn and soybean prices for next year’s crop are lower than projected in August. Corn prices average $3.80 per bushel in 2015/16, and soybean prices drop to $9.04 per bushel.

– Prices recover as markets adjust. Corn prices average $4.10 per bushel, soybeans average $10.21 per bushel … over the 2016‐18 period.

Previously, FAPRI said that corn prices would stay at about $4 per bushel for corn, but the new, bigger numbers for yield estimates push those prices down even more.

RFA Submits LCFS Comments to CARB

The California Air Resources Board has released a proposal to transition to a new version of the GREET model that is used to determine a fuel’s greenhouse gas reduction score or more specifically, the direct lifecycle carbon intensity as part of its Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). CARB has proposed to use Argonne National Laboratory’s latest version of GREET as the basis of its update to the original California GREET model, which was RFANewlogointroduced in early 2008 and has been in use for the past six years.

Geoff Cooper with the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) has submitted comments to CARB and writes, “We believe Argonne’s GREET1_2013 model contains a number of important improvements and updated inputs that more accurately reflect the current CI performance of corn ethanol and many other fuel pathways … it is encouraging to see the LCFS regulation finally catching up to the actual state of the industry.”

RFA believes CARB’s migration to the newer GREET version is a step in the right direction, but “several additional revisions to CA-GREET2.0 should be considered.”

Cooper outlines three specific changes that RFA would like to see CARB address to the new GREET model:

  • CARB should integrate the Argonne GREET1_2013 default assumptions on ethanol co-product feed (i.e., distillers grains) displacement rates.
  • CARB should revise the CA-GREET2.0 model’s treatment of emissions from agricultural lime application based on new data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
  • CARB should adopt the GREET1_2013 methodology for estimating land use change (LUC) emissions in lieu of CARB’s current standalone GTAP methodology.

“Adopting these recommendations would further reduce corn ethanol’s direct CI score by 8–10 percent, and would slash CARB’s current ILUC factor by approximately 70 percent,” according to Cooper. “Integrating RFA’s suggested revisions, along with the proposed changes already planned by CARB, would better reflect the actual nature of ethanol’s lifecycle carbon intensity and confirm ethanol’s ability to significantly reduce GHG emissions relative to gasoline.”

ACE Urges Support for STB Reauth Act of 2014

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) is urging leaders of the Senate Commerce Committee to support S. 2777, the Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Ace of 2014. In a letter, Brian Jennings, executive vice president for ACE writes U.S. corn-based ethanol is the most economical transportation fuel in the world. And when factoring in its favorable blending economics along with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), ethanol is capable of comprising more than its 10 percent share of the U.S. gasoline market.

ACElogo“But in order to do that, reliable and timely rail service is critical,” the letter states. “Unfortunately, during most of 2014, railroads have failed to provide reliable and timely service. Logjams built-up this winter due to extreme cold and snow which reduced the speed and size of trains, and all year long it has appeared that railroads have provided favorable service to crude oil shipments at the expense of ethanol and agricultural commodities….”

“Many of ACE’s ethanol producer members are captive shippers and have reported chronic rail service disruptions this year, such as delayed tank car arrivals, insufficient tank cars received for ethanol off-take, loaded cars parked and overdue for power to arrive, and turn-around times that have doubled. As a result, storage tanks at ethanol plants are full and many of our members have been forced to slow production or worse yet, shut down operations at a time when demand for ethanol is on the rise because of its low price and clean octane benefits, writes Jennings.

The letter continues, “To cope with unreliable rail service, some biorefineries have invested in additional storage or considered adding unit train capability, but it is hard to justify those investments without meaningful commitment by the railroads that service will improve. Moreover, we are concerned that a record harvest of corn and soybeans this fall could make a bad situation on the rails even worse.”

Jennings notes that while the S. 2777 does not immediately nor comprehensively overcome all the problems, it is a step in the right direction.

Iowa RFA Ad Challenges Biden on RFS

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) took out a full page ad in today’s Des Moines Register to ask Vice President Joe Biden to set the record straight on reports that he may have intervened to reverse the Obama Administration’s previous support for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

biden-iowaWith the headline “Say it ain’t so, Joe” the ad questions the vice president about the story out of Philadelphia in May that he urged EPA to lower the RFS after receiving a call from a Pennsylvania congressman on behalf of a refinery owned by the politically connected Carlyle Group. “This report, if true, is deeply troubling. We hope you’ll take the opportunity today to set the record straight. And more importantly, work with us to fix the Administration’s flawed proposal. It’s not too late – but we need your help.”

IRFA and other individuals and organizations involved in Iowa’s renewable fuels industry wrote a letter to the Vice President asking him to clarify the reports and to discuss the issue with Iowans. “Because he has thus far not responded, IRFA is now addressing the issue more publicly with Biden as he visits Iowa today,” said IRFA.

The Vice President delivered remarks in Des Moines today at a kick-off event for the Nuns on the Bus “We the People, We the Voters” bus tour. Not surprisingly, he did not mention renewable fuels during his address.

DuPont Chooses Murex to Market Cellulosic Ethanol

DuPont LogoDuPont Industrial Biosciences (DuPont) has selected Murex LLC to market the cellulosic ethanol produced from its 30-million-gallon-per-year plant in Nevada, Iowa. Upon completion, the facility will be the largest cellulosic ethanol plant in the world.

murex“Murex is a leading marketer in today’s ethanol market. Its team understands domestic and international ethanol dynamics and can hit the ground running to drive growth in the emerging cellulosic ethanol industry,” said DuPont Cellulosic Ethanol Commercial Leader Steven Ogle. “With this collaboration, DuPont is well-positioned to lead the deployment of cellulosic ethanol at a commercial scale.”

Murex has a strong presence in the domestic ethanol market and has been the largest exporter of domestically produced ethanol since 2010. Murex was one of the first marketers of advanced Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) and developed an in-house due diligence program prior to the Quality Assurance Program that allows smaller producers of advanced RINs to deliver their products and RINs to market.

E15 Could Help Lower Gas Prices at the Pump

The end of summer is here and with the season change, “summer gasoline” and its Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) requirements will also come to an end. With fall in view retailers who want to offer E15 to their customers may now do so.

“We’re seeing reports and predictions of lower gas prices, with some celebrating the fact that the price is ACElogodown to $3.39 nationwide,” said American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty. “In the Midwest, where E15, E30, and E85 are more widely available, even E10 prices are already under $3.00 in some markets. Ethanol adds octane and lowers prices because it provides competition for higher priced, lower octane gasoline.”

“E15 brings environmental benefits as well,” continued Lamberty. “Recent studies highlight the reduction in cancer causing emissions offered by E15. E15 means cleaner, higher octane fuel at a lower price and fuel marketers are starting to realize that. Fuel retailers like CHS/Cenex and Protec have taken steps to make E15 available in more markets soon and others will follow.”

Lamberty is encouraging retailers to take note of the growing number of vehicles that can use E15. E15 use is covered under warranty for most cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. for the 2013, 2014, and 2015 model years, and some automakers approve it for 2012 vehicles. That’s 30 million vehicles or more with more vehicles hitting the roads each week that are approved for E15 use.

“This is exactly why Big Oil fights so hard and spends so much time and money to convince EPA and elected officials that the 10% “blend wall” is real, and why they have contract restrictions that prevent branded stations from offering E15.” Lamberty concluded, “It’s not the 5% market share that could be taken by E15 that worries Big Oil – it’s what competition for that 5% does to the prices they can charge for the rest of the gallon. More ethanol means lower prices.”

RFA Calls on EPA to Undo Unfair Fuel Regulations

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is calling on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy to address the unfair fuel volatility regulations that keep the sale and expansion of E15 from occurring. Because E15 does not have the same 1 psi Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) as E10, the ethanol fuel blend can not be sold during summer months. In a letter to McCarthy, Bob Dinneen, CEO and president of RFA writes that EPA’s failure to put E15 on the same footing as E10 has been a substantial roadblock to the rollout of E15.

According to the letter, “…faced with a hopeless decision every spring: stop selling E15 during the summer volatility control season, or secure the appropriate low-RVP gasoline blendstock. For most retailers, neither of these options are acceptable business decisions.”

RFANewlogoDinneen says the EPA continues to handicap market opportunities for E15 by effectively making it a seasonal fuel. This causes retailers and marketers to be hesitant to invest in a fuel that can only be offered part of the year. “Our biggest frustration is that there is simply no legal or environmental justification for EPA’s unequal volatility treatment of E10 and E15. If the Administration is serious about addressing greenhouse gas emissions and keeping gas prices in check, it should immediately correct this gross inequality,” said Dinneen.

RFA points to the larger implications of the RVP restriction in the letter writing, “Slow market adoption of E15 has unnecessarily complicated compliance with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and led the Agency to embrace the oil industry’s ‘blend wall’ concept in the proposed rule for 2014 Renewable Volume Obligations. The bottom line is that E10 and E15 should be treated consistently in the marketplace with regard to RVP….There is simply no sound technical justification, no air quality benefit, and no economic rationale for denying equal RVP treatment for E15 and E10.”

Murphy USA Promoting E15, E85 In Iowa

Murphy USA is partnering with Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) and the Iowa Corn Growers Association to hold grand openings of E15 and E85 pumps across Iowa. The events will include fuel discounts, door prizes and free food with fuel purchase.

“Iowa motorists will now be able to benefit from increased access to cleaner-burning, lower-cost ethanol blends like registered E15 and E85 at many Murphy USA fueling sites across the state,” said IRFA Managing Director Lucy Norton. “To launch its renewed commitment to homegrown, economical fueling options in Iowa, Murphy USA is also stepping up to offer even greater savings on E15 for 2001 and newer vehicle owners and E85 for flex-fuel vehicle owners during its scheduled grand opening celebrations. Be sure to stop by a Murphy USA location near you to save some of your hard earned money while also improving air quality and supporting Iowa jobs.

During the ethanol fuel events, customers will be able to take advantage of E15 for $2.15 per gallon, E85 for $1.85 per gallon. The Murphy USA locations in Clinton, Davenport, Fort Dodge, Mason City and Sioux City will also offer biodiesel. A list of event dates is below:

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 10.56.03 AM

Norton added, “E15 is the lowest priced fuel available for most Iowans, and E85 is the lowest priced fuel for flex-fuel vehicle owners. Now motorists in seven large Iowa cities will have ready access to fuels that not only burn cleaner, but are also the least expensive fuels on the market for the vast majority of drivers.”

Fuels America Thanks Biofuels Supporter Sen Harkin

As Iowa Senator Tom Harkin prepares to retire, Fuels America is thanking him for his unwavering and tireless support of biofuels with a full-page advertisement in the Sunday, September 14, 2014 Des Moines Register and on Iowa radio. Sen. Harkin will be holding his final steak fry with Secretary Hilary Clinton, who is the keynote speaker. During the event he plans on taking the opportunity to update Clinton on biofuels progress across Iowa and the country.

“We’re grateful to Senator Harkin for his leadership, and proud to welcome Secretary Hillary Clinton to Iowa for the last Harkin Streak Fry,” says Fuels America’s radio ads that began running on Wednesday and will continue through Sunday on stations throughout the Des Moines area. “As one great Iowa tradition ends, another is growing.”

Fuels America Harkin-Clinton AdThe ads note that Iowa has doubled renewable fuels production since 2007, and that the Iowa renewable fuels industry now supports over 73,000 jobs. The ads go on to appeal to Clinton’s experience as Secretary of State, noting that she knows the danger that America’s addiction to foreign oil poses to our national security, economic security, and energy security. Instability in Ukraine and Iraq has recently created even more uncertainty in an already tumultuous global oil market, and America’s reliance on foreign oil has left us at the mercy of hostile and unstable foreign actors.

The advertisements come as President Obama is giving final consideration to this year’s final rule on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which will determine the extent to which renewable fuels will be allowed to compete with foreign oil in our fuel supply. At the same time, Secretary Clinton’s arrival in Iowa marks the beginning of a larger national dialogue on the future of renewable energy sources.

Red River Energy Signs Deal with Noble Mansfield

nmrreRed River Energy has signed an ethanol marketing agreement with Noble Mansfield Commodity Services (NMCS) to handle their ethanol marketing. In addition, ICM subsidiary Energy Management Solutions, will manage the day-to-day operations and activities of the 25 million gallon per year ethanol plant located in Rosholt, South Dakota.

According to Rick Serie, general manager of Red River Energy, “After a long and exhaustive search, we’ve concluded that Noble Mansfield Commodity Services is the right ethanol marketing company to help us sell our ethanol as we restart our ICM-retrofitted facility. We felt comfortable with this decision given their past success in consistently selling our products across our key markets. Their marketing and logistics expertise will be particularly important as we proceed with our plans, which include investments into a grain storage bin and ICM’s corn oil extraction technology.”

William K. Covey, CEO of Noble Mansfield Commodity Services, agrees. “We are very excited for the opportunity to once again support Red River Energy by serving their marketing needs with knowledge, experience and reliability. We also welcome Rick’s trust in our ability to consistently maximize their netbacks, along with his appreciation for our personalized client support, competitive logistics, railcar access, transparent accounting integration and actionable market intelligence.”

Big Corn Crop Getting Bigger

usda-logoUSDA has increased its estimate of the corn crop again this month, building on already forecast record highs. Corn production is forecast at 14.4 billion bushels, up 3 percent from both the August forecast and from 2013 and yields are expected to average 171.7 bushels per acre, almost 13 bushels an acre higher than last year.

NCGA-Logo“It will be the fifth record crop that we’ve had in the last 12 years,” says National Corn Growers Association Vice President of Public Policy Jon Doggett, who commented on the crop during a during a Fuels America press call Thursday discussing the importance of EPA keeping the ethanol requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) going forward. “When the energy bill was passed in 2008, there was a challenge to the corn industry to produce the corn, and we have produced the corn,” he said, adding that farmers have done it so well that prices have fallen back below cost of production.

“The American farmer has done it again!” said Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). “The innovation and rapid technology adoption we’ve seen in the corn sector over the past decade has been nothing short of astounding. The American farmer has again risen to the challenge to meet all demands for feed, food and fuel.”

RFANewlogoAs harvest ramps up in fields across the country, corn demand from the ethanol sector is ramping up as well. Dinneen notes that DOE projects 2014 ethanol production will be 14.3 billion gallons. “A decade ago, who would have dreamed that 14 billion bushels of corn and 14 billion gallons of clean-burning, domestically-produced ethanol would be the reality in 2014?,” he said.

Dinneen added that EPA’s proposal to reduce the 2014 RFS requirement for “renewable fuel” from 14.4 billion gallons to 13.01 billion gallons would effectively reduce demand for corn by some 500 million bushels, at a time when corn stocks are rising and prices are slumping to levels below the cost of production. “Now is not the time to artificially constrain demand for corn and tie the hands of the American farmer,” Dinneen said, urging EPA to “finalize a rule that returns the RFS to its intended trajectory.”

Dueling RFS Ads Have Same Tune

President Obama needs to overrule this misguided proposal from the EPA before it is too late and these new technologies move overseas. The fate of America’s advanced biofuel industry, along with the President’s clean energy legacy, are resting on his decision. Fuels America USA Today print ad

“Tell President Obama, stop playing politics – fix the RFS.”
American Petroleum Institute TV ad

fuels-americaBoth the American Petroleum Institute and Fuels America unveiled new media campaigns this week targeted at telling the White House what to do when it comes to volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Both organizations held conference calls with reporters to announce the new campaigns.

The single, full page, USA Today ad that will run during Climate Week September 19-21 is a sharp contrast to the oil industry’s multi-million dollar television, radio, and online advertising campaign. “This has been a David and Goliath struggle all along,” said Brent Erickson with the Biotechnology Industry Organization on behalf of Fuels America. “The biofuels industry has been struggling against this Goliath oil industry that has spent millions and millions of dollars on ads.”

The biofuels industry ad stresses the opening of the first large, commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plants this year and warns that “the companies and investors looking to deploy the next wave of cellulosic ethanol facilities have put U.S. investment on hold” until a decision on the future of the RFS is made. The API ad calls the RFS “Washington red tape” and blames ethanol for raising food prices and contributing to hunger, even though corn prices are lower than breakeven for farmers this year, according to National Corn Growers Association Vice President of Public Policy Jon Doggett. “We are selling corn today at about 35% of what we did just a couple of years ago, certainly below the cost of production for many of our growers,” he said.

API’s Bob Greco says they launched their campaign in part because of recent statements from EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy that the agency will raise ethanol requirements based on the latest gasoline demand figures for 2014. “Unfortunately, the administration seems to be playing politics with the RFS rule instead of doing what’s best for consumers,” Greco said. “You don’t have to be a political insider to see how the Iowa Senate race—and the White House fear of losing control of the Senate—plays into this decision.”

“Politics are being played on this issue by both sides,” said Doggett. “I don’t think anyone should be surprised.”

Fuels America is a “coalition of organizations committed to protecting America’s Renewable Fuel Standard and promoting the benefits of all types of renewable fuel already growing in America.” API is the “only national trade association that represents all aspects of America’s oil and natural gas industry.”

Listen to the Fuels America call, which also includes comments from POET-DSM’s Steve Hartig: Fuels America RFS Campaign call

RFA: Rail Congestion Must Get Resolved

Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is speaking out again on the problems of rail congestion that is slowing down the delivery of ethanol and ethanol byproducts across the country. He submitted written testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation that held a hearing yesterday to examine rail congestion and the harmful impact it has had on agriculture and other commodities.

Dinneen stressed the role that Bakken Crude rail shipments have played in increasing dwell times and decreasing train speeds and pointed toward the negative impact these delays are having on ethanol producers. “The rail system didn’t collapse last winter because of a snow drift in North Dakota,” he said. “It was because of a 400% increase in oil shipments from the Bakkens.”

RailcarsIn the written testimony Dinneen said, “The recent crisis of congestion that has seemingly overtaken the rail industry has become a huge and costly problem … This crisis is one that is causing significant harm to the economic health and well-being of our nation’s economy, as well as driving up costs for a wide array of commodities that rely on the rail for transportation…it is becoming more and more apparent that surging crude oil shipments are coming at the expense of other goods and commodities.”

Listen to Dinneen’s comments here: RFA CEO Bob Dinneen comments on rail situation

Iowa E85 Sales Strong

IowaRFAlogoIowa motorists purchased over 2.9 million gallons of E85 in the second quarter of 2014, the second most sales in any second quarter on record, and a more than 200,000 gallon increase over the first quarter of 2014, according to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA).

“Two strong quarters of E85 sales are now in the books, and Iowa is poised for another big year in E85 sales,” said IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “As White House officials review the final RFS volume levels, they should take note that when given the choice, motorists firmly support lower-cost, higher-level ethanol blends.”

E85, a fuel blend containing between 70 and 85 percent ethanol, is currently sold at more than 200 fueling sites in Iowa, and can be used in all flex-fuel vehicles (FFV).

Ethanol Report on Corn and Food Prices

ethanol-report-adIn this edition of the Ethanol Report, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) Senior Vice President Geoff Cooper talks about how corn prices have fallen but food prices continue to rise, and how that shows the “food versus fuel” argument is false.

A new report from RFA compares corn prices to the price of dairy products, pork products, beef products, and poultry and egg products from January 2007 – July 2014.

Ethanol Report on Corn and Food Prices