US biodiesel production, imports remain strong amid uncertainty

By Ron Kotrba | August 22, 2017

With U.S. EPA’s July RIN generation figures now out, production of domestic and imported volumes of biodiesel remain strong despite uncertainty resulting from the new administration, a lapsed biodiesel tax credit, and concerns about the future growth of the advanced biofuel category and biomass-based diesel subset of the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Domestic production of biomass-based diesel that generated D4 RINs under the RFS program totals more than 952 million gallons for the first seven months of this year, according to EPA’s EMTS data. Most of this domestic production is biodiesel but it also includes some renewable diesel. Imported volumes of D4-generating biomass-based diesel totals roughly 416 million gallons from January through July. Combined, about 1.37 billion gallons of biodiesel and renewable diesel fuel has been produced to satisfy the 2-billion-gallon biomass-based diesel renewable volume obligation (RVO) under RFS for 2017, and the larger advanced biofuel RVO of 4.28 billion ethanol-equivalent gallons (2.85 billion biodiesel-equivalent gallons).

The 1.37-billion-gallon total for the first seven months of 2017 is impressive considering last year, when a tax credit was in effect and well before the uncertainty of a new Trump administration was introduced, the combined D4 volume during the same time period (January through July 2016) was 1.27 billion gallons.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s import data, no biodiesel from Indonesia—manufactured from palm oil and generating D6 RINs—has entered the U.S. from January through May of this year. A vast majority of biodiesel imports entering the U.S. during this time period has come from Argentina, with some originating in Canada. Slightly more than 77 million gallons of renewable diesel has been shipped to the U.S. from Neste’s Singapore plant in the same timeframe, according to EIA data.

Monthly biomass-based diesel D4 RIN generation so far this year peaked in June at nearly 263 million gallons, which includes domestic and imported volumes, according to EPA’s EMTS data. The lowest month of production this year was January, at nearly 126 million gallons.

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