May US biodiesel exports outpace imports as production record hit

By Ron Kotrba | August 02, 2013

Biodiesel exports were up significantly in May as the U.S. shipped 23.3 million gallons out of the country according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, more than tripling March export volumes and up nearly 8 million gallons from April’s export volume of 15.6 million gallons. U.S. biodiesel imports ticked up slightly in May to around 16 million gallons, up from nearly 13 million gallons in April but down slightly from March’s 17 million gallons.

The Canadian marketplace absorbed nearly half of U.S. exports in May, coming in at slightly more than 11 million gallons. Roughly 6 million gallons was shipped to Spain, while more than 5.5 million gallons was exported to Malaysia. Small shipments to Taiwan, Peru and Australia made up the balance.

U.S. imports from Indonesia tallied at nearly 5 million gallons. Germany sent about 4.5 million gallons through U.S. ports. More than 2 million gallons originated from Canada while Argentina shipped nearly 1.9 million gallons. The remaining 2.8 million gallons of imports came from South Korea and the Netherlands.

The U.S. also imported 5.7 million gallons of “other renewable diesel” in May.

The EIA defines “biomass-based diesel” as “biodiesel and other renewable diesel fuel or diesel fuel blending components derived from biomass, but excluding renewable diesel fuel coprocessed with petroleum feedstocks.” It defines “other renewable diesel” as “diesel fuel and diesel fuel blending components produced from renewable sources that are coprocessed with petroleum feedstocks and meet requirements of advanced biofuels.”

The EIA also reported that U.S. biodiesel production in May reached a record level of 111 million gallons. The agency’s data shows May’s production beat out December 2011 as the previous all-time monthly U.S. biodiesel production high.

U.S. EPA’s production figures for May, gained from EMTS (moderated transaction system), were released a month ago and showed U.S. biodiesel production hit about 135 million gallons.

The EIA said production came from 116 active biodiesel plants with operable capacity of 2.2 billion gallons per year. Its data shows that production for the first five months of 2013 was 449 million gallons while EPA’s data indicates that 504 million gallons was produced through May.

The EPA's production numbers are based on RINs generated whereas the EIA figures are based on producer surveys. 

There were 3,427 million pounds of feedstocks consumed for biodiesel production from January to May, giving a ratio of 7.6 pounds of feedstock per gallon of biodiesel produced. Soybean oil constituted about 54 percent of the total feedstock through May.



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