US ethanol falls as midcon rail returns

  • Market: Biofuels, Oil products
  • 04/16/19

Restored railroad service through the US midcontinent has returned ethanol prices to levels seen before flooding in March caused rail damage throughout the region.

Prices for fob Union Pacific railcars of the fuel in Iowa traded at 124¢/USG yesterday, down from a peak of 149¢/USG on 22 March that was driven by multiple storms that led to high waters making some rail routes impassible. Prices for fob UP railcars in the region traded at 124.5¢/USG on 13 March, just prior to the floodwater damage to railways heading to the east and west.

Prices for Chicago Rule 11 railcars, which peaked at 149¢/USG on 22 March, dropped to 134.25¢/USG yesterday. Railcars were trading near 132.5¢/USG on 13 March.

A late winter storm last week threatened to slow restoration efforts in parts of Nebraska and Iowa, but service remained close to normal early this week. The National Weather Service still has a flood warning in place for parts of Missouri river, stretching north of Omaha, Nebraska, to just north of Kansas City, Kansas.

Rail service over the Platte river between Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Kansas City is expected to return to normal in late May, according to Union Pacific's most recent flood recovery update on 12 April. That impasse caused prices in Dallas, Texas, to strengthen sharply this month — from a typical 2¢-3¢/USG discount to Houston to a 1¢/USG premium on 4 April.

Ethanol prices in Dallas have since retreated slightly, trading at a 0.75¢/USG discount to Houston today.


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