EIA 2011 biodiesel production stats well short of EMTS figures

By Erin Voegele and Ron Kotrba | April 03, 2012

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has released its latest monthly statistics on biodiesel. The new report, issued during the final week of March, includes data through the end of 2011.

According to the report, U.S. producers manufactured 861 million gallons of biodiesel in 2011, a significant increase over the 309 million gallons produced in 2010 and the 506 million gallons produced in 2009. Regarding monthly production, the U.S. biodiesel industry produced 103 million gallons of biodiesel in December, a slight increase over the 97 million gallons produced in November, and a significant increase over the 17 million gallons produced in December 2010.

The EIA’s production figures come well below the U.S. EPA’s Moderated Transaction System (EMTS) numbers, which state that nearly 1.1 billion gallons of biodiesel was produced in 2011.

The discrepancy of roughly 200 million gallons in annual totals could in part be the result of different data sources and collection methods. From January through July, EIA obtained its biodiesel production data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Beginning in August, its figures were forecasts and estimates.

At the end of EIA’s March Monthly Energy Review, it states, “Beginning with August 2011, biodiesel production data are not available from the Bureau of the Census; in their place, forecast data from EIA’s Short-Term Integrated Forecasting System will be used until survey data from EIA’s Monthly Biodiesel Production Report are available.”

Regarding data collection, Census Bureau data used by EIA from January through July were gathered from biodiesel producer survey responses. It is possible some of those surveys were never filled out or sent back to the agency, while other producers may have never received surveys to begin with. EMTS data were gathered from producers with financial incentive to accurately report their production data because the only way to move the “juice,” as one source said, is to move the physical gallon with the renewable identification number (RIN).

The EIA also reports that the U.S. consumed a total of 772 million gallons of biodiesel in 2011, which is a large increase over the 229 million gallons consumed the year prior. Consumption for December fell off slighting from consumption in November, with the EIA reporting relatively consumptions of 92 million gallons and 96 million gallons respectively.

According to the report the U.S. exported 1.74 million barrels of biodiesel in 2011 and imported 861,000 barrels. The amount of biodiesel exported for the year was significantly lower than the export levels of 2.5 million barrels that was reported for 2010. However, imports rose slightly from 2010 levels of 546,000 barrels.

The EIA reports that biodiesel stocks at the end of the year measured 1.9 million barrels. That is a significant increase over the 672,000 barrels that were reported for 2010.

The significant overall increase of 2011 production and consumption levels can be largely attributed to the reinstatement of the $1 biodiesel tax credit, which expired at the end of the year. The EIA’s next monthly report should shed some light on how the industry is fairing in 2012 without the credit. That report is expected to be released during the final week of April. 


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