2018 is on pace to be a record year for ethanol exports.
The latest government information shows that U.S. ethanol exports through June stood at 927.7 million gallons (mg), up 33 percent from the first half of 2017 and on pace to shatter last year’s record of 1.38 billion gallons (bg). According to the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), robust export markets are more important now than ever before, as actions by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are undermining domestic ethanol demand.
“Booming exports have played a crucial role in balancing the supply-demand equation for U.S. ethanol,” said Geoff Cooper, the RFA’s executive vice president. “The wave of RFS small refiner exemptions secretly issued by former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has caused softer demand in the domestic market, as reflected by ethanol blend rates that are below year-ago levels. Thus, continuing to grow export demand has never been more important; we are encouraged that foreign buyers are increasingly recognizing the tremendous value of U.S. ethanol as the lowest-cost and cleanest source of octane available on the world market.”
U.S. ethanol exports in June were up 65% from May, totaling 151.5 million gallons (mg).
Brazil is the leading market for U.S. exports so far this year, taking about 37 percent of total shipments, up 28 percent over the same period in 2017. Canada comes in second with exports up eight percent from last year.
Other top markets for the first half of 2018 were India (70.1 mg), China (52.9 mg), South Korea (44.5 mg), and the Philippines (43.7 mg). It should be noted, however, that 99 percent of the exports to China occurred in the first three months of the year, and fuel ethanol exports to the country collapsed to zero in the second quarter as a result of increased tariffs.