E10 triumphs in France, ethanol demand rises
Barcelona, 9 May (Argus) — E10 is about to be crowned the biggest selling gasoline grade in France in early 2017, following an imminent data revision by the industry.
French ethanol consumption rose in the first quarter of this year, compared with the same period in 2016, supported by rising demand for the 10pc ethanol blend SP95-E10.
The E10 brand has consistently gained sales over the last five years, and Argus has been told that a data revision is likely that will place E10 as the highest selling gasoline grade in France in January and February this year (see chart).
Sales of the E85 brand — which generally contains around 75pc ethanol for use in specialised flexfuel vehicles — have been counted by domestic petroleum federation the CPDP within the SP95 data. This is to change. Although E85 sales are small in France, a revision of methodology that lowers records of SP95 sales will reveal E10 as the highest selling gasoline grade. An announcement of a revision by the CPDP and domestic fuel ethanol federation the SNPAA is expected in a matter of weeks. A revision would not materially affect calculations of fuel ethanol demand.
Under the CPDP's existing data, E10 already looks likely to become the highest selling gasoline brand in France in either April or May after it sold 65,000 b/d in March, up by 12.6pc on the year, according to data from the CPDP. In March, its sales were just behind the SP95 grade, which contains around 4pc ethanol, which sold a little under 68,000 b/d down by 5pc compared with March 2016.
Taken over the first three months of this year, SP95 sold 62,000 b/d, down by 5pc on the year, while E10 sold 61,000 b/d, up by 11.5pc compared with the first quarter of 2016. The E10 grade has been aided by a €0.02/litre cut in fuel duties in summer 2016 that boosted sales, and the turnover of the French car fleet now means almost all French cars and vans that run on gasoline can fill up with E10.
An extra push to increase sales points for E85, plus the launch of new flex fuel car models from manufacturers Jeep and Volkswagen, have also helped boost sales of fuel ethanol. Consumption of E85 reached a little under 7,900t in March, up by 23pc on the year. In the first quarter of this year sales hit 20,000t, up by 17pc compared with the same period a year earlier.
Estimated total ethanol demand from French road users — including the SP95, SP98, SP95-E10 and E85 grades — reached 37,500t in March, up by 8.6pc on the year. French refiners also buy ethanol to produce the oxygenate ETBE. While no official figures for ETBE demand are released, estimated ethanol demand from ETBE use was 21,000t up by 5.6pc compared with March 2016. This comes from a percentage of 15pc ETBE in SP98, 5pc in SP95 and 5pc in SP95-E10. With ETBE and neat ethanol taken together this gives a total of 59,000t of ethanol demand in March, up by 7.5pc on the year.
First-quarter neat ethanol plus ETBE demand equates to a total of 157,000t of ethanol used in France, up by 6.3pc compared with January to March 2016.
The figures mean that France has pushed its ethanol consumption to a 6pc rate in energy calorific terms, a new high, but still short of the country's 7pc mandate. France has also approved use of a new E95 blend for use in buses and public transport vehicles, but currently there is no recorded demand.
E10 and SP95 demand including potential revision '000t