European biodiesel industry pushes for biodiesel import guidelines

By Bryan Sims | January 01, 2009
Despite the closing of the U.S. splash-and-dash loophole in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, the European Union and its constituents remain committed to regulating subsidized B99 arriving in its ports.

In late October, Germany's Environment Ministry ruled that biodiesel derived from soy and palm oil has been eliminated from the list of qualified biofuels. The ministry also ruled that biofuels production mandates in the country have been reduced by 1 percent, down to 5.25 percent. This new regulation is expected to become effective in early 2009.

However, soy- or palm-oil-based biodiesel that was ordered and shipped after Sept. 26, and then exported to Germany won't qualify for the country's subsidies and incentives.

According to the ministry, ruling out biodiesel produced either wholly or partially from soy or palm oil falls in line with the country's effort to use more sustainable raw feedstocks to meet its biodiesel production mandates. A review for the possible adjustment of quotas is set for Dec. 31, 2011.

Gary Haer, vice president of sales and marketing for Renewable Energy Group Inc., said the ruling has caused "international markets to sit back and take pause, and look at the impact this would have on biodiesel trade around the world, especially product moving into the German market."

Germany-based biodiesel producer Petrotec AG currently operates two biodiesel facilities with a combined capacity of approximately 55 MMgy using waste grease as a feedstock, and it supported the ministry's new policy. "The federal government is taking an initial step toward the sustainability of biofuels," said Chief Executive Officer Roger Boing.

In an effort to improve oversight of the continued arrival of U.S. biodiesel, which makes up approximately 90 percent of the volumes entering the European Union, the European Biodiesel Board called on the European Commission to introduce a registration system for all biodiesel imports into the EU. "There is an urgent need to put a halt to a manifestly unbalanced market caused by the import of subsidized U.S. biodiesel, if we want to secure the short-term viability of the EU biodiesel industry," the EBB said. It believes that subsidized B99 exports to Europe are breaches of World Trade Organization rules and undermines the concept of the international trade of biodiesel.
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