US, Argentina surge in world biodiesel production rankings

By Bryan Sims | December 29, 2011

A report recently conducted by Santiago & Sinclair LLC, a Texas-based renewable energy consultant group with offices in Buenos Aires, Argentina, forecasted that Argentina will surpass Brazil and France in 2011 to become the third largest biodiesel producer in the world.

According to figures compiled by Santiago & Sinclair, Argentina’s biodiesel production continued to rise consistently and is projected to surpass Brazil for the first time in 2011; however, the firm noted that the differences in total production will be very close. Argentina is expected to end the year with 2.4 million tons produced, versus 2.3 million tons for Brazil while French production is expected to decrease for a second consecutive year and end with less than 1.9 million tons produced. Spain and Italy are expected to show the most significant decrease in production volume, but with the greatest increases in imports, much of which come from Argentina.

Similarly, country production numbers through the third quarter of 2011 revealed a shakeup in global rankings. Germany continues to lead the pack, albeit by an increasingly smaller margin, while the U.S. surged up the ranks and is expected to end 2011 in second place with 2.5 million tons of biodiesel produced, up from just over 1 million tons in 2010.

In 2011, the firm noted that the production spread between the largest producer (Germany) and the fourth largest producer (Brazil) is only 430,000 tons compared to more than 1 million tons two years ago.

“Thus, in 2012 any one of the four (Germany, U.S., Argentina and Brazil) could emerge as the largest producer, although German production appears to continue to stagnate,” stated Carlos St. James, managing director of Santiago & Sinclair and board member of the Latin American & Caribbean Council on Renewable Energy and the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance.

“U.S. production is entirely a function of continued subsidies while Argentina is working towards a B10 domestic mandate (up from B7 currently) and Brazil may bump its mandate up to B5 (from B2 currently),” St. James added. “It should make for an interesting year.”

In other related Argentine news, biodiesel exports rose more than 58 percent to $1.9 billion in 2011 compared to 2010, according to a statement from the Argentine Biofuels Chamber, or CARBIO. In terms of volume, exports from Argentina increased 18.5 percent higher to 1.6 million tons. Not only will the country end 2011 as the third largest biodiesel producer, but Argentina is also world's top biodiesel exporter.

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