Who is OPEC Kidding?

John Davis

Ethanol makers all over the world are asking the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), “Who do you think you’re kidding?”

In a full page ad in the Financial Times, the biofuel industries of Brazil, Canada, Europe and the United States are challenging the oil cartel’s “outrageous, misleading, and unsubstantiated claims about the role of ethanol in world oil markets.” This press release has more details:

“Efforts to obfuscate and mislead the public about biofuels will do nothing to alleviate the energy crisis gripping the world. We realize that biofuels may be reducing your windfall profits. But, perhaps, the time for OPEC to face some competition has finally arrived,” the groups wrote.

The growing volume of biofuels in the global fuels market is helping to keep world oil and gasoline prices lower than OPEC may like. A recent Merrill Lynch analysis shows that biofuels keep world oil prices 15% lower than they otherwise would be.

The groups –- the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association (CRFA), the European Bioethanol Fuel Associations, the Brazilian Sugarcane and Ethanol Industry Association (UNICA) and the US Renewable Fuels Association – were answering the charges by OPEC that ethanol was in part responsible for the soaring price of crude oil, a price that will fetch OPEC nations more than $1.2 trillion dollars this year alone.

“According to the International Energy Agency, ‘biofuels have become a substantial part of faltering non-OPEC supply growth, contributing around 50% of incremental supply in the 2008-2013 period,’” the groups pointed out. “Without the growing production and use of biofuels worldwide, IEA calculates that more than one million barrels per day of new oil production would be required.”

The groups also cited a Merrill Lynch analysis that biofuels are helping keep oil prices 15 percent lower than if they weren’t around and gas prices in the U.S. would be 50 cents a gallon more without ethanol in the picture.

The ethanol makers go on to say wild claims and the use of inflammatory language by OPEC and its leaders betray the very real threat biofuels poses to the cartel:

The groups wrote that, “…for more than a generation, OPEC has held the world over a barrel. When it has suited the cartel, OPEC has forced the price of oil down, effectively killing off any alternatives that might prove competitive…As the world biofuels industry evolves, new feedstocks and technologies will usher in greater production and begin to supplant even larger volumes of petroleum. This movement toward diversified energy supplies, increased efficiency and greater competition is crucial to the sustainability of future generations, including those in OPEC nations.”

Ethanol, News