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Low-CO2 biofuel feedstock imports to rise: USDA

  • Market: Agriculture, Biofuels, Emissions
  • 13/06/24

A new US tax credit kicking off next year that is more generous for fuels that produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions will likely spur more imports of low-carbon feedstocks, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said in a report this week.

A raft of government incentives, including the federal renewable fuel standard and low-carbon fuel standards (LCFS) in states like California, has already spurred a boom in renewable diesel production, upping demand for feedstocks that can be used to make the fuel. The US was a net soybean oil importer for the first time ever in 2023 because of strong demand from domestic refineries, and the value of US imports of animal fats and vegetable oils more than doubled from 2020 to 2023 according to the report.

That trend could become even more pronounced next year as the Inflation Reduction Act's 45Z tax credit, which offers up to $1.75/USG for sustainable aviation fuel and up to $1/USG for other fuels like renewable diesel, comes into force. The credit can only be claimed for fuel produced in the US, likely cutting biofuel imports and sending more feedstocks that would have been refined abroad to the US instead, the report says.

The 45Z credit will also be more generous to fuels with lower carbon intensity, upping demand for waste feedstocks like used cooking oil that already fetch greater discounts in LCFS programs. Fast-rising imports of China-origin used cooking oil have already frustrated some agricultural groups, which lose out if there are more ample supplies of waste feedstocks.

The report says that while soybean oil was the "crucial feedstock" allowing for the recent growth in US renewable diesel, its share of the feedstock mix has been trending downwards because of competition from lower-carbon feedstocks and lower-cost canola oil from Canada. While soybean oil exports have plunged because of the renewable diesel boom, they could recover slightly if refineries increasingly turning to waste feedstocks cuts into US soybean oil's current premium over global vegetable oils.

The report adds that soybean oil's role in renewable diesel production is also at risk from rising supplies of soybean meal, which is produced alongside oil at crush plants and where the global demand picture is less clear.

"Based on global demand for soybean meal, soybean oil cannot continue to fuel renewable diesel production growth at current rates during the next few years without major changes to global soybean meal demand, shifts in exporter market shares, or lower supplies in other exporting countries," the report says.


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19/07/24

Von der Leyen faces new Green Deal challenges

Von der Leyen faces new Green Deal challenges

The president promises a ‘clean industrial deal', but will need to make compromises over climate policy, writes Dafydd ab Iago Brussels, 19 July (Argus) — Ursula von der Leyen's re-election by the European Parliament as president of the European Commission on 18 July promises to see a doubling down on climate and energy policy, with her 2024-29 mandate stipulating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions cuts of at least 90pc by 2040 compared with 1990. "I have not forgotten how [Russian president Vladimir] Putin blackmailed us by cutting us off from Russian fossil fuels. We invested massively in homegrown cheap renewables and this enabled us to break free from dirty Russian fossil fuels," von der Leyen says, promising to end the "era of dependency on Russian fossil fuels". She has not given an end date for this, nor specified if this includes a commitment to ending Russian LNG imports. Von der Leyen went on to detail political guidelines for 2024-29. She has pledged to propose a "clean industrial deal" in the first 100 days of her new mandate, albeit without giving concrete figures about how much investment this would channel to infrastructure and industry, particularly for energy-intensive sectors. The clean industrial deal will help bring down energy bills, she says. Von der Leyen told parliament that the commission would propose legislation, under the European Climate Law, establishing a 90pc emissions-reduction target for 2040. Her political guidelines also call for scaling up and prioritising investment in clean technologies, including grid infrastructure, storage capacity, transport for captured CO2, energy efficiency, power digitalisation and a hydrogen network. She plans to extend aggregate demand mechanisms beyond gas to include hydrogen and critical raw materials, and notes the dangers of dependencies and fraying supply chains — from Putin's energy blackmail to China's monopoly on battery and chip raw materials. Majority report Passing the necessary legislation to implement her stated policies will now require approval from EU states and parliament. Unless amplified by Germany's election next year, election victories by far-right parties in France and elsewhere appear not to threaten EU state majorities for specific legislation. Parliament's political centre-left S&D and liberal Renew groups, as well as von der Leyen's own centre-right European People's Party (EPP), have elaborated key policy requests. These broadly call for the continuation of the European Green Deal — a set of legislation and policy measures aimed at 55pc GHG emissions reductions by 2030 compared with 1990. A symbolic issue for von der Leyen to decide on — or compromise on — is that of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. EPP wants to stick to technological neutrality and revise the current mandate for sales of new ICE cars to be phased out by 2035, if they cannot run exclusively on carbon-neutral fuels. The EPP wants an e-fuel, biofuel and low-carbon fuel strategy. Von der Leyen's guidelines reflect the need to gain support from centre-right, centre-left and greens. She says the 2035 climate neutrality target for new cars creates investor and manufacturer "predictability" but requires a "technology-neutral approach, in which e-fuels have a role to play". She has not mentioned carbon-neutral biofuels. It will be impossible for von der Leyen to satisfy all demands in her second mandate. This includes policy requests put forward by the EPP, ranging from a "pragmatic" definition of low-carbon hydrogen and market rules for carbon capture and storage, to postponing the EU's deforestation regulation. EU member states are expected to propose their candidates for commissioners in August, including for energy, climate and trade policy, with von der Leyen's new commission subject to a final vote in parliament in late October. Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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Trump vows to target 'green' spending, EV rules


19/07/24
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19/07/24

Trump vows to target 'green' spending, EV rules

Washington, 19 July (Argus) — Former president Donald Trump promised to redirect US green energy spending to other projects, throw out electric vehicle (EV) rules and increase drilling, in a speech Thursday night formally accepting the Republican presidential nomination. Trump's acceptance speech, delivered at the Republican National Convention, offered the clearest hints yet at his potential plans for dismantling the Inflation Reduction Act and the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law. Without explicitly naming the two laws, Trump said he would claw back unspent funds for the "Green New Scam," a shorthand he has used in the past to criticize spending on wind, solar, EVs, energy infrastructure and climate resilience. "All of the trillions of dollars that are sitting there not yet spent, we will redirect that money for important projects like roads, bridges, dams, and we will not allow it to be spent on the meaningless Green New Scam ideas," Trump said during the final night of the convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Trump and his campaign have yet to clearly detail their plans for the two laws, which collectively provide hundreds of billions of dollars worth of federal tax credits and direct spending for renewable energy, EVs, clean hydrogen, carbon capture, sustainable aviation fuel, biofuels, nuclear and advanced manufacturing. Repealing those programs outright could be politically difficult because a majority of spending from the two laws have flowed to districts represented by Republican lawmakers. The speech was Trump's first public remarks since he was grazed by a bullet in an assassination attempt on 13 July. Trump used the shooting to call for the country to unite, but he repeatedly slipped back into the divisive rhetoric of his campaign and his grievances against President Joe Biden, who he claimed was the worst president in US history. Trump vowed to "end the electric vehicle mandate" on the first day of his administration, in an apparent reference to tailpipe rules that are expected to result in about 54pc of new cars and trucks sales being battery-only EVs by model year 2032. Trump also said that unless automakers put their manufacturing facilities in the US, he would put tariffs of 100-200pc on imported vehicles. To tackle inflation, Trump said he would bring down interest rates, which are controlled by the US Federal Reserve, an agency that historically acts independently from the White House. Trump also said he would bring down prices for energy through a policy of "drill, baby, drill" and cutting regulations. Trump also vowed to pursue tax cuts, tariffs and the "largest deportation in history," all of which independent economists say would add to inflation. The Republican convention unfolded as Biden, who is isolating after testing positive for Covid-19, faces a growing chorus of top Democratic lawmakers pressuring him to drop out of the presidential race. Democrats plan to select their presidential nominee during an early virtual roll-call vote or at the Democratic National Convention on 19-22 August. By Chris Knigh t Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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Q&A: Aviation may pull feeds away from marine: BV


19/07/24
News
19/07/24

Q&A: Aviation may pull feeds away from marine: BV

London, 19 July (Argus) — Biofuel feedstocks could be routed away from marine fuels to meet demand from the aviation sector if the latter is willing to pay higher prices associated with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), Bureau Veritas (BV) Marine & Offshore's global market leader for sustainable shipping Julien Boulland told Argus. Edited highlights follow: Marine biodiesel has been the largest alternative fuel uptake, with over 1mn t sold in Rotterdam and Singapore last year. But with Argus assessments showing premiums above $225/t to VLSFO dob ARA, how do you see marine biodiesel demand in the medium- to long-term? Shipowners and ship operators have to run an individual cost-analysis on whether the premiums could be offset by potential savings under EU emissions trading system (ETS) and FuelEU Maritime regulations, as well as any future regulations such as the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) economic pricing mechanism . In terms of emissions, biofuels still emit CO2 on a tank-to-wake basis, but less on a well-to-wake basis compared to their fossil equivalents. This will also vary depending on the feedstock for the biofuel as well as the production process. Under the current IMO regulations for energy efficiency, including the Ship Energy Management Plan (SEEMP) and its requirements for fuel reporting (DCS), there might be some indirect commercial benefits for owners, too. For example, a better CII (Carbon Intensity Indicator) score may make a vessel more appealing to charterers and help its owner secure more favourable rates. There are also other factors to consider, such as Scope 3 emissions rights, which can influence demand, as we currently see from voluntary demand from cargo owners seeking those documents. But this will also have a geographic impact on demand, as larger container liner companies usually utilise the east-west route and they might prefer to opt for bunkering the marine biodiesel blend in Singapore due to lower prices. What are the risks associated with bunkering marine biodiesel in relation to conventional ship engines? How significant is the recent FOBAS report that implied a correlation between the use of "unidentified" biofuels and engine pump injector damage? We have supported our shipowner clients in numerous pilots to trial biofuels such as fatty acid methyl ester (Fame) and hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) in variable blends. Overall, these trials have gone smoothly, but we have learned a few things along the way. Firstly, engines do not need to be modified, but since biofuels have slightly different physical properties, it is necessary to find the right engine adjustments. A very good knowledge of the fuel properties is key in determining the right adjustments, and the new revision of ISO 8217 on marine fuel specifications is crucial in supporting this process. Another key finding is the importance of receiving full information on fuel characteristics from the supplier. Finally, BV plays a key role in ensuring full fuel certification on several aspects, including sustainability and physical properties. Used cooking oil (UCO) can also feed into SAF and with potentially greater refining margins. Do you think some feedstocks will be pulled away from marine? When it comes to methanol, we believed marine would take up more of the feedstock compared with the chemicals industry due to greater willingness to pay larger premiums. But with biofuels, it seems to be the other way around where aviation could end up pulling biofuel feedstocks away from maritime. In terms of fuel consumption, the marine and aviation industries are comparable but if aviation are willing to pay more, then it will likely get more of the feedstocks required to produce SAF. What are the implications of the new ISO specifications, what are the key takeaways for marine biodiesel uptake? More has to be done, but now we have parameters for assessing biofuel blend specifications. It was very well accepted by the industry, and now operators and shipowners have a standard to rely on. But it doesn't resolve the question around feedstock cross-industry competition. However, it does also open the door for off-spec Fame residue blends to become ISO-certified — depending on further testing. With IMO aiming for "global regulations for a global market", how do you see conflicts between different regulations affecting the market? We are closely following the IMO development process for a global economic pricing mechanism. IMO has assigned a working group of technical experts to look at this mechanism from an apolitical perspective. In terms of potential regulatory conflicts , we have the example of the Netherlands, where the Dutch emission authority requires the delivery of Proof of Sustainability (PoS) certificates for applying to the scheme of Dutch renewable tickets (HBE-G) which can be traded, but this PoS cannot be used for other purposes, such as the EU ETS. To circumvent this hiccup, we may see the development of new digital certificates, such as an accompanying ISCC-certified Proof of Compliance (PoC). By Hussein Al-Khalisy Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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Urgent action needed for UK to hit net zero goals: CCC


18/07/24
News
18/07/24

Urgent action needed for UK to hit net zero goals: CCC

London, 18 July (Argus) — The UK increased the rate at which it reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions last year, but "urgent action" is needed for the country to meet its targets in 2030 and beyond, independent advisory body Climate Change Committee (CCC) said in its progress report published today. The report assesses the UK's progress towards its net zero goals against policy set out by the previous Conservative government. The new Labour government, which has been in power since 5 July, has already set the scene for a stronger decarbonisation agenda , but it "will have to act fast to hit the country's commitments", the report says. The committee tracked progress on 28 key indicators. Of the 22 that have a benchmark or target, only five are assessed as being "on track". The UK's GHG emissions last year stood at 393mn t/CO2 equivalent (CO2e), down on the year by 5.4pc, or 22mn t/CO2e, provisional data show. This estimate excludes contributions from international aviation and shipping, as these are not included in the UK's 2030 target of a 68pc cut in GHG emissions from a 1990 baseline. And last year's reduced emissions resulted primarily from a drop in gas demand, the CCC says. Combined gas demand in 2023 averaged 156mn m³/d, down from nearly 175mn m³/d a year earlier. While progress has been made, the previous administration "signalled a slowing of pace and reversed or delayed key policies", the report says. The reduction in emissions last year is "roughly in line with the annual pace of change needed" to reach the 2030 target, but the average annual rate over the previous seven years is "insufficient", the committee says. The new government has placed strong focus on decarbonising electricity in its first days in office, but this is "not enough on its own", CCC acting chief executive James Richardson said. The average annual rate of GHG reduction outside the electricity supply sector over the previous seven years was 6.3mn t/CO2e, but this will need to more than double until 2030 if the UK is to meet its targets, the CCC says. In order to reach targets, "annual offshore wind installations must increase by at least three times, onshore wind installations will need to double and solar installations must increase by five times" by 2030. By comparison, oil and gas use should be "rapidly" reduced and the expansion of the production of fossil fuels should be limited, according to the report. The CCC also recommended that about 10pc of UK homes will need to be heated by a heat pump by 2030, in comparison with about 1pc today. The committee criticised the exemption of 20pc of properties from the 2035 phase-out gas boiler plan, saying it is "unclear" how the exemption would reduce costs as fewer consumers would have to pay to maintain the distribution grid. Gas-fired power generation in recent months has dropped on the back of high wind output and brisk power imports. Power-sector gas burn was 25mn m³/d in March-June, roughly half of the three-year average for the period. But if UK power demand increases with electrification, gas-fired power generation could maintain its role in the country's power mix, particularly if it is combined with carbon capture, use and storage technology, for which fast development and scale-up will need to happen this decade, the CCC says. "Biases" towards the use of natural gas or hydrogen must be removed where electrification is the most economical decarbonisation solution in an industry sector. Power prices need to be reduced "to a level that incentivises industrial electrification". Oil, gas industry to meet climate goals The UK's oil and gas sector "is on track to meet its own climate goals and is not slowing down", offshore industries association OEUK said today in reaction to the CCC's report. The UK needs a plan for reducing oil and gas demand and cutting its reliance on imports, according to OEUK chief executive David Whitehouse. "We should be prioritising our homegrown energy production," he said. The sector reduced its emissions by 24pc in 2022 from 2018, meaning it met its target to reduce emissions by 10pc by 2025 early. The industry halved its flaring and venting and cut methane emissions by 45pc in 2022 compared with 2018, Whitehouse said. OEUK plans to reduce emissions by a quarter by 2027 and by half by 2030 against 2018 levels. And it aims to achieve net zero by 2050. By Georgia Gratton and Jana Cervinkova Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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EU’s von der Leyen re-elected as Commission president


18/07/24
News
18/07/24

EU’s von der Leyen re-elected as Commission president

Brussels, 18 July (Argus) — The European Parliament today approved Ursula von der Leyen's re-election as president of the European Commission. Nominated by EU states in June, von der Leyen received 401 votes, by secret ballot, from parliament's 720 newly elected members. Von der Leyen called for continuing climate and energy policy in her 2024-29 mandate to achieve greenhouse gas (GHG) cuts of at least 90pc by 2040 from 1990 levels. "I have not forgotten how [Russian president Vladimir] Putin blackmailed us by cutting us off from Russian fossil fuels. We invested massively in homegrown cheap renewables. And this enabled us to break free from dirty Russian fossil fuels," said von der Leyen, promising to end the "era of dependency on Russian fossil fuels". She did not give an end date for this, nor did she specify if this includes a commitment to end Russian LNG imports. Von der Leyen went on to detail political guidelines for 2024-29. In the first 100 days of her new mandate, she pledged to propose a "clean industrial deal", albeit without giving concrete figures about how much investment this would channel to infrastructure and industry, particularly for energy-intensive sectors. The clean industrial deal will help bring down energy bills, she said. Von der Leyen told parliament the commission would propose legislation, under the European Climate Law, establishing a 90pc emission-reduction target for 2040. Her political guidelines also call for scaling up and prioritising clean-tech investment, including in grid infrastructure, storage capacity, transport infrastructure for captured CO2, energy efficiency, power digitalization, and deployment of a hydrogen network. She will also extend aggregate demand mechanisms beyond gas to include hydrogen and critical raw materials. Her political guidelines note the dangers of dependencies or fraying supply chains, from Putin's "energy blackmail" or China's monopoly on battery and chip raw materials. Majority report Passing the necessary legislation to implement her stated policies will now require approval from EU states and from parliament. Unless amplified by Germany's election next year, election victories by far-right parties in France and elsewhere appear not to threaten EU state majorities for specific legislation. Parliament's political centre-left S&D and liberal Renew groups, as well as von der Leyen's own centre-right EPP, have elaborated key policy requests . These broadly call for the continuation of von der Leyen's Green Deal, the set of legislation and policy measures aimed at 55pc GHG emission reduction by 2030, compared with 1990 levels. A symbolic issue for von der Leyen to decide, or compromise on, is the internal combustion engine (ICE). Her EPP group wants to stick to technological neutrality and to revise the phase-out, by 2035, of new ICE cars if they cannot run exclusively on carbon-neutral fuels. The EPP wants an EU e-fuel, biofuel, and low-carbon fuel strategy. Von der Leyen's guidelines reflect the need to gain support from centre-right, centre-left, and greens. For the ICE phase-out, she said the 2035 climate neutrality target for new cars creates investor and manufacturer "predictability" but requires a "technology-neutral approach, in which e-fuels have a role to play." She made no mention of carbon-neutral biofuels. It will be impossible for von der Leyen to satisfy all demands in her second mandate. That includes policy asks put forward by the EPP, ranging from a "pragmatic" definition of low-carbon hydrogen, market rules for carbon capture and storage, postponing the EU's deforestation regulation, to catering more for farmers, even by scrapping EU wildlife protection for wolves and bears. EU member states are expected to propose their candidates for commissioners in August, including those responsible for energy, climate, and trade policies. When parliament has held hearings for candidates in late October, von der Leyen's new commission would then be subject to a final vote. By Dafydd ab Iago Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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