New E15 push expected from White House: Update

  • Spanish Market: Biofuels, Oil products
  • 24/09/18

Adds RIN price context.

President Donald Trump's administration will within weeks renew efforts to allow the year-round sale of higher-ethanol gasoline blends, according to multiple sources in biofuels and refining industries.

The administration will announce changes to allow the year-round sale of 15pc ethanol gasoline in October, according to sources familiar with the plan but not authorized to discuss it publicly. Exactly what they would offer US refiners and importers to support the change remained unclear and under discussion today. Strategies for quick approval of the change risk an almost certain court challenge.

Neither the White House nor the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which administers the fuel regulations, responded to questions about the plan.

US air quality laws restrict gasoline's Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) — a measure of how easily the fuel evaporates — in certain markets during high-demand summer months. The law included a specific waiver for gasoline with up to 10pc blends of ethanol.

Ethanol groups seeking greater market share have demanded EPA expand that waiver to 15pc blends.

Approving the waiver could ease some of the farm-country displeasure with Trump administration trade actions ahead of fall elections. Battles with China have cut off major soy and corn markets for US farmers. Agribusiness and renewable fuels companies have pushed the administration, rather than Congress, to make the change.

Refiners have said they would support a change — as a package with changes that reduce their costs or obligations under the program.

But industry representatives have repeatedly warned that any unilateral change to the waiver would head to court. Critics of the environmental consequences of the change, including US senators Peter Welch (D-Vermont) and Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) also warned that the EPA could not make such a change.

"Previously, EPA has publicly concluded that it does not have the statutory authority to issue such a waiver, and the reported decision to reverse this conclusion appears to be driven by political considerations, rather than scientific or legal analysis," the senators said in July. "The plain reading of the Clean Air Act and EPA's long-standing interpretation strongly suggest that EPA lacks authority to unilaterally allow year-round sales of E15."

Agriculture supporters carefully targeted Pruitt, not Trump, in this year's push for the waiver. Senators and trade groups singled out the increasingly embattled administrator, casting him as interfering with presidential directions drawn from occasional Trump comments in support of the policy this year. But acting administrator Andrew Wheeler has not moved on the proposal since assuming EPA leadership in July. Agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue told farmers in Iowa last month that Trump supported the change as part of a larger fuel sector bargain.

Increasing fuel blending would increase the number of available renewable identification numbers (RINs) needed to comply with federal fuel blending mandates called the Renewable Fuel Standard. The risk of more RINs has helped to pressure already-low prices for the credits lower. RINs associated with ethanol blending fell by 8pc to 14.5¢/RIN today, the lowest settlement since late January 2013, based on Argus assessments.


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New ISO 8217 eyes wider scope for alternative fuels


24/04/24
24/04/24

New ISO 8217 eyes wider scope for alternative fuels

London, 24 April (Argus) — The 7th edition of ISO 8217, to be published in the second quarter of this year, will outline a broader integration of marine biodiesel blending, delegates heard at the International Bunker Conference (IBC) 2024 in Norway. Tim Wilson, principal specialist fuels of Lloyds Register's fuel oil bunkering analysis and advisory service (FOBAS), presented on the upcoming iteration of the ISO 8217 marine fuel specification standard, which will be released at IBC 2024. The new edition will incorporate specification standards for a wide range of fatty acid methyl ester (Fame)-based marine biodiesel blends up to B100, 100pc hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), as well as synthetic and renewable marine fuels. This will also include additional clauses to cover a wider scope, and briefly touch on biodiesel specifications that do not entirely align with road biodiesel EN-14214 specifications. This follows the emergence of widening price spreads for marine biodiesel blends because of specification differences and the lack of a marine-specific standard for the blends. The new edition of ISO 8217 is also expected to remove the limit of 7pc Fame when blended with distillate marine fuels such as marine gasoil (MGO) which was in place in the previous ISO 8217:2017. Other changes to distillate marine biodiesel blends include changes to the minimum Cetane Index, oxidation stability alignment to be connected to either ISO 15751 for blends comprising 2pc or more of Fame biodiesel and ISO 12205 for blends comprising a Fame component of under 2pc. Cold-filter plugging point (CFPP) properties will be determined by the vessel's fuel storage tanks' heating capabilities and requirements will be set in place to report the CFPP for distillate marine biodiesel grades, according to the new edition of the marine fuel specification standard. Wilson said that a minimum kinematic viscosity at 50°C will be in place for various forms of residual bunker fuel oil along with a viscosity control alerting suppliers to inform buyers of the exact viscosity in the supplied fuel. He said they have seen delivered fuel viscosity come in at much lower levels than ordered by the buyers, which was the reasoning behind the viscosity control monitoring requirement. By Hussein Al-Khalisy Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Peninsula eyes B100 marine fuel supply in Barcelona


24/04/24
24/04/24

Peninsula eyes B100 marine fuel supply in Barcelona

London, 24 April (Argus) — Marine fuel supplier and trader Peninsula has added a chemical tanker to its fleet in Barcelona, with a view to supply the port with B100 marine biodiesel. Aalborg meets chemical tanker regulations under the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)'s International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) Annex II. This means the tanker can supply marine biodiesel blends containing up to 100pc fatty acid methyl ester (Fame), which conventional oil tankers are unable to do . Oil tankers and barges are limited to up to 25pc Fame. Peninsula added that the Aalborg is also used to supply conventional fossil bunker fuels such as very-low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) and marine gasoil (MGO). It is yet to complete a B100 delivery in Barcelona. Market participants pointed to limited demand for B100 in the Mediterranean, but regulatory changes such as the introduction of FuelEU maritime next year may help to support demand for marine biodiesel blends. By Hussein Al-Khalisy Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

USGC LNG-VLSFO discount to steady itself


23/04/24
23/04/24

USGC LNG-VLSFO discount to steady itself

New York, 23 April (Argus) — The premium for US Gulf coast (USGC) very low-sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) to LNG is expected to linger but not widen this spring, maintaining interest in LNG as a bunkering fuel. US Gulf coast LNG prices slipped from a premium to a discount to VLSFO in March 2023 and have remained there since. The discount surpassed 200/t VLSFO-equivalent in January (see chart). Both LNG and VLSFO prices are expected to remain under downward pressure due to high inventories, which could keep the current LNG discount steady. The US winter natural gas withdrawal season ended with 39pc more natural gas in storage compared with the five-year average, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). Henry Hub natural gas monthly average prices dropped below $2/mmBtu in February, for the first time since September 2020, Argus data showed. The EIA expects the US will produce less natural gas on average in the second and third quarter of 2024 compared with the first quarter of 2024. Despite lower production, the US will have the most natural gas in storage on record when the winter withdrawal season begins in November, says the EIA. As a result, the agency forecasts the Henry Hub spot price to average less than $2/mmBtu in the second quarter before "increasing slightly" in the third quarter. EIA's forecast for all of 2024 averages about $2.20/mmBtu. US Gulf coast VLSFO is facing downward price pressure as demand falls and increased refinery activity signals a potential supply build . Rising Gulf coast refinery activity was likely behind some of the drop in prices. Gulf coast refinery utilization last week rose to 91.4pc, the highest in 12 weeks and up by 0.9 percentage points from the prior week. US Gulf coast suppliers are also eyeing strong fuel oil price competition from eastern hemisphere ports such as Singapore and Zhoushan, China, importing cheap Russian residual fuel oil. In general, LNG's substantial discount to VLSFO has kept interest in LNG for bunkering from ship owners with LNG-burning vessels high. The EIA discontinued publishing US bunker sales statistics with the last data available for 2020. But data from the Singapore Maritime & Port Authority, where the LNG–VLSFO discount widened to over $200/t VLSFOe in February, showed Singapore LNG for bunkering demand increase 11.4 times to 75,900t in the first quarter compared with 6,700t in the first quarter of 2023 and 110,900t for full year 2022. By Stefka Wechsler US Gulf coast LNG vs VLSFO $/t VLSFOe Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Kuwait’s KPC agrees VLSFO term supply contract with QE


23/04/24
23/04/24

Kuwait’s KPC agrees VLSFO term supply contract with QE

Singapore, 23 April (Argus) — Kuwait's KPC has signed a term agreement with fellow state-owned firm Qatar Energy (QE) to supply very-low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) for loading over July 2024 through to June 2025. The VLSFO supplied amounts to 1.2mn t/yr (21,000 b/d). KPC finalised the term contract at around a $8-9/t premium against the average of Singapore 0.5pc marine fuel spot assessments, according to a source close to the company. QE has expanded its own bunkering infrastructure at the port of Ras Laffan and started relying on VLSFO supplied from Kuwait's 615,000 b/d al-Zour refinery since early last year. The VLSFO supplied is to meet the country's bunkering demand. QE had a previous mini term VLSFO agreement with KPC last year. KPC supplied around 1-2 Medium Range size vessels of VLSFO each month from January 2023 to March this year, according to global trade analytics platform Kpler. The announcement of the term deal left the market unfazed, said a Dubai based fuel oil trader, as KPC has regularly offered term tenders over the year. Supplies to QE has been continuing since last year, with the deal merely being a renewal of their previous agreement, the trader added. This is KPC's third official term contract concluded since the start-up of al-Zour in late 2022. The first term contract was awarded for second-half 2023 loading to Shell, with the second to ExxonMobil for first-half 2024 loading. The terms of the two contracts stated a minimum of 80,000 t/month and a maximum of 720,000 t/month of VLSFO, with KPC having discretion over the total volume. Al-Zour can produce around 11mn-12mn t/yr of VLSFO at full capacity, with around half of it allocated for exports. By Asill Bardh Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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