December 28, 2012

Biofuel News Roundup

I have not been following the biofuel market for some time but there are definitely still a lot of investment activities going on despite the regulatory/subsidy challenges especially in the US and in Europe.

Here in the US, the uncertainty on the future of the Farm Bill program is now hanging over corn and soybean growers. Farmers depend on this subsidy to help them in times of bad crops. The US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) also remains a contention between various industries.

Speaking of EPA, the agency's Administrator Lisa Jackson just resigned from her post yesterday. The food industry, the petroleum industry, and several livestock industries have all been after the EPA to change the status quo for the Renewable Fuels Standard for 2013. The RFS2 requires 13bn gallons of ethanol to be produced in 2013. Several industry food groups are arguing that the RFS requirement is aggravating food prices because of the use of corn.

The EPA denied the request for the RFS waiver last month but this issue will surely not go away next year. For biodiesel, the EPA also boosted demand for the biofuel in 2013 with a mandate that will increase volume of biomass-based diesel for consumption in the US next year from 1.0 billion to 1.28 billion gallons. The American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) has filed a request for reconsideration on this final mandate.

Not everything is doom and gloom in the biofuel world, at least not in Brazil, where it is benefitting from some of the investments recently such as from BP and Petrobras. Biofuel Digest has an interesting article about their biofuel predictions for 2013 that you might want to check out. In the meantime, here are the blog's news roundup for biofuels this month.

BP invests in Brazilian ethanol
BP Biofuels plans to invest $350m to expand its ethanol processing capacity of Tropical, one of its sugarcane processing ventures in Brazil. Tropical's capacity located in Goias State will double to 5m tons/year of sugarcane producing 450m liters/year of ethanol equivalent. The mill is expected to be operating at full capacity by the end of 2014 or early 2015.

Petrobras expands biodiesel capacity
Petrobras Biofuel will expand its Darcy Ribeiro biodiesel plant located in the state of Minas Gerais by 40% to 152m liters/year. The expansion will cost $28m. This latest expansion will increase Petrobras Biofuel's total biodiesel capacity to 765m liters/year. The Darcy Ribeiro plant currently operates at full capacity and has produced to-date a total of 260m liters of biodiesel.

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