Oleochemical, palm importers confused on deforestation

  • : Agriculture, Biofuels, Chemicals
  • 23/04/21

European oleochemical and palm oil importers are struggling to understand the ramifications of the new EU deforestation regulation (EUDR), and sources told Argus there are details that need to be clarified.

The EUDR, approved by the European Parliament on 20 April, surprised and raised concerns that it could limit key feedstocks for oleochemicals production, and palm oil and derivatives imports to Europe. Around 64pc of these are from Malaysia and Indonesia, two of the worst positioned countries on traceability, according to sources.

"I'm in shock," a glycerine producer said after finding that glycerine with over 95pc purity was among the products affected by the regulation. "Considering the information in the new regulation, I really cannot understand what information we would need to submit."

The regulation requires mandatory due diligence from operators and traders selling and importing palm oil and derivatives, including glycerine with over 95pc purity, oleic, stearic and palmitic fatty acids and industrial fatty alcohols. Firms must ensure products sold in the EU have not caused deforestation or forest degradation, with penalties for non-compliance including a maximum fine of at least 4pc of annual EU turnover.

A palm oil importer said some of the products included in the regulation were surprising and clarification was needed.

"Palm oil needs to be compliant with the regulation of each country in Europe, and there are other things that need to be clarified, as traceability from smallholders, that are defined in Europe as four hectares, while Indonesia defines them as 10 hectares," the importer told Argus. Smallholders account for more than 40pc of palm oil production in Malaysia and Indonesia.

The European Oleochemicals and Allied Products Group (APAG) and the European Committee of Organic Surfactants and their intermediates (Cesio) said they support addressing climate change and the regulatory intervention at the EU level, but voiced concern.

"The provision to supply geolocation co-ordinates back to plot-of-land creates a barrier in including smallholders in the EU palm oil supply chain," they said in a joint statement. "Smallholders represent 40pc of the palm oil production in southeast Asia and are therefore a crucial player in the palm oil value chain."

They said excluding smallholders from the EU supply chain "would shift palm oil and other commodities to countries with weaker environmental regulations, resulting in shifting deforestation to other regions." A importer pointed to "a lack of formality in land ownership in Malaysia and Indonesia, and smallholders feed to a central processing plant, which leads to a lack of traceability."

Following approval by EU ministers, entry into force will see all countries assigned a "standard" risk level. The European Commission will then benchmark countries within 18 months. The law says 9pc of operators and traders will be subject to checks if importing products from "high-risk" countries.

The legislation takes into account deforestation since 31 December 2020.

"The issue is that traceability is going to be a trouble for smallholders because of informal land ownership," the importer said.

The industry associations said that together with other sectors they have supported development of guidelines to ensure proper traceability, and they are keen on working with the commission to develop the documents.

"One size does not fit all," they said. "Palm and palm kernel oils are liquid goods unlike wood, coffee and cocoa beans, making traceability requirements more complex.

"Traceability to palm oil mills, complemented by relevant due diligence, is currently the most effective tool in place to secure a sustainable supply-chain, inclusive of all players," they said.

Eurostat data show that in 2022-23, as of 20 March, the five biggest palm oil exporters into the EU were Indonesia with more than 42pc, Malaysia with around 22pc, Guatemala with almost 14pc, Honduras with almost 7pc and Papua New Guinea with around 6pc. The importer said Guatemala is the best positioned on traceability at this point, and Malaysia, Indonesia, Colombia and Honduras are the most affected.


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24/05/20

Q&A:Shipping needs cultural shift to decarbonise: Total

Q&A:Shipping needs cultural shift to decarbonise: Total

Amsterdam, 20 May (Argus) — A cultural change in buying behaviour and supply patterns is necessary for the shipping sector to meet its decarbonisation targets and may be the biggest hurdle to overcome, strategy and projects director for TotalEnergies' marine fuels division Frederic Meyer told Argus. Edited highlights follow: What is the biggest challenge standing in the way of the maritime industry in meeting decarbonisation targets and the fuel transition ? A cultural change is required — for decades the maritime sector has relied on by-products with high energy density from the crude refining process such as fuel oil. The industry will now have to pivot its attention towards fuels developed for the purpose of consumption within the maritime industry. This will also require time as the sector looks to level up, and it remains to be seen whether there will be enough time to meet the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)'s net-zero by or around 2050 targets. But we have seen some good progress from cargo owners who are seeking scope 3 emissions related documents. How does TotalEnergies see marine biodiesel demand moving in the short term? In the short term, there is little incentive for the majority of buyers in the market. This is due to a lack of any regulatory mandates, as well as limited impact from existing regulations such as the IMO's carbon intensity indicator (CII) and the EU's Emissions Trading System (ETS). Despite providing a zero emission factor incentive for biofuels meeting the sustainability criteria under the EU's Renewable Energy Directive (RED), EU ETS is still on a staggered implementation basis beginning with only 40pc this year, rising to 70pc next year and 100pc in 2026. Further, EU ETS prices have been quite low, which also weighed on financial incentives for marine biodiesel. Therefore, many buyers are currently waiting for further incentives and signals from the regulators before purchasing marine biodiesel blends. Another point impacting demand is the current edition of ISO 8217, which does not provide much flexibility when it comes to marine biodiesel blend percentages and specifications. The new 2024 edition will likely provide greater flexibility for blending percentages, as well as a provision for biodiesel that does not meet EN14214 specifications. This will provide greater flexibility from a supply point of view. However, there remains stable demand from buyers who can pass on the extra costs to their customers. And how do you see this demand fluctuating in the medium to long term? If the other alternative marine fuels, such as ammonia and methanol, that are currently being discussed do not develop at the speed necessary to meet the decarbonisation targets, then marine biodiesel demand will likely be firm. Many in the market have voiced concerns regarding biofuel feedstock competition between marine and aviation, ahead of the implementation of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) mandates in Europe starting next year. With Argus assessments for SAF at much higher levels than marine biodiesel blends, do you think common feedstocks such as used cooking oil (UCO) will get pulled away from maritime and into aviation? With regards to competition among different industries for the same biofuel feedstock, suppliers may channel their feedstock towards aviation fuels due to the higher non-compliance penalties associated with SAF regulations as opposed to those in marine, which would incentivise greater demand for SAF. An area that can be explored for marine is the by-product when producing SAF, which can amount to up to 30pc of the fuel output. This could potentially feed into a marine biodiesel supply pool. So it's not necessarily the case that the two sectors will battle over the same feedstock if process synergies can be found. Regarding fuel specifications, market participants have told Argus that the lack of a marine-specific fuel standard for alternatives such as marine biodiesel is feeding into uncertainty for buyers who may not be as familiar with biofuels. What impact could this have on demand for marine biodiesel blends from your point of view? Currently, mainstream biodiesel specifications in marine biodiesel blends are derived from other markets such as the EN14214 specification from road diesel engines. But given the large flexibility of a marine engine, there is room to test and try different things. For "unconventional" biofuels that do not meet those road specifications, there needs to be a testing process accompanied by proof of results that showcase its safety for combustion within a marine engine. Some companies may not have the means or capacity to test their biodiesel before taking it into the market. But TotalEnergies always ensures that there are no engine-related issues from fuel combustion. Suppliers need to enact the necessary testing and take on the burden, as cutting out this process may create a negative perception for the product more generally. Traders should also take on some of the burden and test their fuels to ensure they are fully compatible with the engine. With many regulations being discussed, how do you see the risk of regulatory clashes impacting the industry? The simple solution would be an electronic register to trace the chain of custody. In the French markets, often times the proof of sustainability (PoS) papers are stored onto an electronic database once they are retired to the relevant authority. This database is then accessible and viewable by the buyer, and the supplier could also further deliver a "sustainability information letter" which mirrors the details found in the PoS. It is important for the maritime sector to adopt an electronically traceable system. What role could other types of fuels such as pyrolysis oil potentially play in the maritime sector's decarbonisation targets? We have teams in research and development at TotalEnergies which are studying the potential use of other molecules, including but not limited to pyrolysis oil, for usage in the maritime sector. It may become an alternative option to avoid industry clashes, as pyrolysis oil would not be an attractive option to the aviation sector. We are currently exploring tyre-based pyrolysis oil, but have only started doing so recently so it remains an untapped resource. We need to figure out the correct purification and distillation process to ensure compatibility with marine engines. For the time being we are specifically looking at tyre-based pyrolysis oil and not plastic-based, but we may look at the latter in a later stage. The fuel would also have to meet the RED criteria of a 65-70pc greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction compared with conventional fossil fuels, so we are still exploring whether this can be achieved. By Hussein Al-Khalisy Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Australia’s cropping conditions mixed: GPA


24/05/20
24/05/20

Australia’s cropping conditions mixed: GPA

Sydney, 20 May (Argus) — Australia's cropping regions show an imbalance as the winter crop planting period progresses, according to the Grain Producers Australia (GPA) latest 2024 season update. The report, which collected perspectives from GPA representatives in different cropping regions, revealed how dryness in Western Australia (WA) and Southern Australia (SA) is in contrast to favourable soil moisture and rainfall levels in the east Australia cropping regions of Queensland, New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria. WA growers are continuing to dry sow crops awaiting a significant rainfall event or "break" to germinate their crops. While some rain had fallen in May, most of the WA grain belt remains dry. Planting decisions in WA were influenced by the lack of rainfall, anticipated yields and future prices, according to the GPA report. Some growers are considering reducing their canola crop as the future price per tonne was unappealing, while others had already cut back their intended crop because of a dry rainfall outlook until June and the cost of canola seed. Others have withheld canola planting as they wait for a material seasonal break. These perspectives are consistent with the Grain Industry Association of Western Australia's May crop report that projected canola area in 2024 would be down overall from 2023 because of dry conditions. The GPA report also stated anxiety among WA growers were heightened because of a relatively poor season last year, along with the ability of some growers to diversify income streams with a government decision to ban live sheep exports by May 2028. Northern and central western NSW had good rainfall and a positive start to the season, while growers in southern NSW were looking for rain to germinate dry sown crops. Victoria has good soil moisture for seeding, although one GPA member said access to some fertilisers was an issue for growers who wanted it on hand for winter. Queensland has had wet weather for its summer crop harvest. The sorghum harvest period, usually finished during February–March, according to GPA, was disrupted by heavy rainfall around Easter. This reduced crop quality and could potentially delay winter crop planting, according to a GPA member. The US Department of Agriculture crop calendar for Queensland indicates the typical planting period for winter crops of barley and wheat is May and April-July respectively. By Edward Dunlop Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

US RIN generation up in April as D4 climbs


24/05/16
24/05/16

US RIN generation up in April as D4 climbs

Houston, 16 May (Argus) — Generation of renewable identification number (RIN) credits in April rose by 12pc, as biomass-based D4 diesel credits posted their second highest monthly volumes ever. Total RIN generation rose to 2.06bn credits in April, up from 1.84bn a year earlier, the US Environmental Protection Agency reported on Thursday. D4 credits continued to lead gains in April, with generation increasing on the year by 29pc to 780mn credits. The only month with greater D4 RIN generation was December 2023. D4 accounted for 38pc of all RINs in April, up from 33pc in April 2023. Ethanol D6 RIN generation rose from a year earlier by 2.4pc to 1.2bn credits, accounting for 58pc of all RINs generated in the month. D6 credits were also up by 4pc from March, a month that was affected by seasonal ethanol plant maintenance. Cellulosic biofuel D3 credit generation rose by 7.6pc from a year earlier to 69mn credits. RINs are credits traded and produced by refiners and importers to show compliance with the EPA's Renewable Fuel Standard program. Obligated parties can produce credits when renewable fuels are blended into conventional transportation fuels or can purchase credits from other RIN producers. By Matthew Cope Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Sinking crop values weigh on US farmer profits in 2024


24/05/16
24/05/16

Sinking crop values weigh on US farmer profits in 2024

Houston, 16 May (Argus) — The cycle of above-average profits that has defined the US agricultural economy in recent seasons is fraying this year as crop prices slacken against elevated expenses. The domestic agricultural sector is forecast to endure a 24pc drop in net cash income this season — the sharpest year-over-year decline in the last decade — underpinned by a 6pc slump in crop sales revenue and modest growth in projected expenses, according to the US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) latest industry income statement. This retraction, which kicked off in 2023, forced many growers in key agricultural districts this season to augment non-real estate loans, slow debt repayment and restructure existing loans to meet liquidity requirements thanks in part to sliding global grain and oilseed prices. Lenders within the seventh and 10th Federal Reserve districts, which represent farmers across major growing regions, reported stronger loan demand and tightened working capital during the first quarter — signaling deteriorating farm finances. Working capital is measured as the difference between the value of assets that can be easily converted to cash and debt due within the next 12 months. Lower working capital valuation signals the ability to pay down debt could be challenged. Domestic agricultural working capital this year is estimated 17pc lower from 2023 and 6pc lower than the five-year average, according to USDA data. "Conditions in the US farm economy have tightened alongside lower prices for many key products and higher financing costs," the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City reported in its quarterly Ag Credit Survey . "Many lenders highlighted growing concerns about deterioration in working capital as a result of low prices, particularly for crop producers." US row-crop growers are expected to endure another season of price deterioration as global markets adjust to supply shocks stemming from the ongoing war in Ukraine that rattled wheat values and key input prices for corn and soybeans. Domestic corn, soybean and wheat farm cash prices are projected to slump for a second consecutive season by 5pc, 11pc and 15pc, respectively, according to the latest projections from the USDA's World Agricultural Supply and Demand (WASDE) report. Corn growers, specifically, face losses this season amid a 4.6mn-acre cut in planted area from last season in tandem with sinking crop values. Margins are estimated -$65.75/acre, based on the latest new-crop contract close and early-season production volume estimates, after benefiting from peak earnings at $242.33/acre in 2022. Corn is a fertilizer-intensive crop, and changes in farmer profitability can erode input prices. Urea, the most widely traded fertilizer globally, is strongly tied to front-month corn futures and domestic barge prices have sunk to levels last seen in January 2021, tracking lower front-month corn futures since the start of the 2023-24 fertilizer season. Fertilizer expenses account for nearly 40pc of annual operating costs for domestic corn growers on a per-acre basis, with seed costs comprising an average 25pc, according to Argus analysis of USDA data. Plant nutrition expenses, though, surged in 2022 and remained above average in 2023 — reflecting historically elevated fertilizer prices during the same period. The USDA forecasts a 15pc dip in fertilizer costs in 2024 for corn growers, providing some reprieve compared with the last two years despite higher seed and various overhead expenses. "Factors like the rising costs of seeds, fertilizers and other inputs as well as more strict environmental regulations, specifically on water usage, have added to the financial and administrative burden for farmers," said Donnie Taylor, Agricultural Retailers Association senior vice-president of membership and corporate relations. By Connor Hyde Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Low-carbon methanol costly EU bunker option


24/05/16
24/05/16

Low-carbon methanol costly EU bunker option

New York, 16 May (Argus) — Ship owners are ordering new vessels equipped with methanol-burning capabilities, largely in response to tightening carbon emissions regulations in Europe. But despite the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions savings that low-carbon methanol provides, it cannot currently compete on price with grey methanol or conventional marine fuels. Ship owners operate 33 methanol-fueled vessels today and have another 29 on order through the end of the year, according to vessel classification society DNV. All 62 vessels are oil and chemical tankers. DNV expects a total of 281 methanol-fueled vessels by 2028, of which 165 will be container ships, 19 bulk carrier and 14 car carrier vessels. Argus Consulting expects an even bigger build-out, with more than 300 methanol-fueled vessels by 2028. A methanol configured dual-fuel vessel has the option to burn conventional marine fuel or any type of methanol: grey or low-carbon. Grey methanol is made from natural gas or coal. Low-carbon methanol includes biomethanol, made of sustainable biomass, and e-methanol, produced by combining green hydrogen and captured carbon dioxide. The fuel-switching capabilities of the dual-fuel vessels provide ship owners with a natural price hedge. When methanol prices are lower than conventional bunkers the ship owner can burn methanol, and vice versa. Methanol, with its zero-sulphur emissions, is advantageous in emission control areas (ECAs), such as the US and Canadian territorial waters. In ECAs, the marine fuel sulphur content is capped at 0.1pc, and ship owners can burn methanol instead of 0.1pc sulphur maximum marine gasoil (MGO). In the US Gulf coast, the grey methanol discount to MGO was $23/t MGO-equivalent average in the first half of May. The grey methanol discount averaged $162/t MGOe for all of 2023. Starting this year, ship owners travelling within, in and out of European territorial waters are required to pay for 40pc of their CO2 emissions through the EU emissions trading system. Next year, ship owners will be required to pay for 70pc of their CO2 emissions. Separately, ship owners will have to reduce their vessels' lifecycle GHG intensities, starting in 2025 with a 2pc reduction and gradually increasing to 80pc by 2050, from a 2020 baseline. The penalty for exceeding the GHG emission intensity is set by the EU at €2,400/t ($2,596/t) of very low-sulplhur fuel oil equivalent. Even though these regulations apply to EU territorial waters, they affect ship owners travelling between the US and Europe. Despite the lack of sulphur emissions, grey methanol generates CO2. With CO2 marine fuel shipping regulations tightening, ship owners have turned their sights to low-carbon methanol. But US Gulf coast low-carbon methanol was priced at $2,317/t MGOe in the first half of May, nearly triple the outright price of MGO at $785/t. Factoring in the cost of 70pc of CO2 emissions and the GHG intensity penalty, the US Gulf coast MGO would rise to about $857/t. At this MGO level, the US Gulf coast low-carbon methanol would be 2.7 times the price of MGO. By comparison, grey methanol with added CO2 emissions cost would be around $962/t, or 1.1 times the price of MGO. To mitigate the high low-carbon methanol costs, some ship owners have been eyeing long-term agreements with suppliers to lock in product availabilities and cheaper prices available on the spot market. Danish container ship owner Maersk has lead the way, entering in low-carbon methanol production agreements in the US with Proman, Orsted, Carbon Sink, and SunGaas Renewables. These are slated to come on line in 2025-27. Global upcoming low-carbon methanol projects are expected to produce 16mn t by 2027, according to industry trade association the Methanol Institute, up from two years ago when the institute was tracking projects with total capacity of 8mn t by 2027. By Stefka Wechsler Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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