Abengoa to begin cellulosic ethanol production in April

By Erin Voegele | November 13, 2013

Abengoa has released its financial results for the third quarter, reporting continuing improvements in its bioenergy division. Ethanol margins have improved in the U.S., Europe and Brazil, and the company announced plans to begin cellulosic production in early 2014.

For the first nine months of the year, the company’s biofuels business reported revenues of €1.567 billion ($2.104 billion), down 1 percent from revenues reported for the same period of 2012. EBITDA for the segment increased to €81 million for the first nine months of the year, up from €26 million for the first nine months of 2012. The increase is attributed to a significant increase in the crush spread in Europe, the U.S. and Brazil.

Across all its segments, Abengoa reported revenues of €5.233 billion for the first nine months of the year, up 17 percent compared to the same period of last year. EBITDA for the nine-month period increased by 29 percent, reaching €860 million. Net income increased to €73 million, up 13 percent from the first nine months of 2012.

During a call to discuss the quarterly results, Abengoa CEO Manual Sanchez Ortega said U.S. average crush spread margins reached 75 cents during the first nine months of the year, up from 40 cents for the same period of last year. “Capacity utilization for the division is getting back to full scale, with 95 percent average production capacity of our plants utilized in the period,” he said.

Ortega also addressed rumors that the U.S. EPA may reduce 2014 volume standards under the renewable fuels standard. He said if the standard for corn ethanol is set at 14.4 billion gallons, gasoline demand remains stable and low corn prices are realized, that would constitute a key recover driver in the U.S. next year. However, he specified there is a need to remain caution until the final 2014 numbers are released by the EPA.

In addition, Ortega addressed the company’s cellulosic ethanol plant in Kansas. The facility is currently approximately 92 percent complete he said, and is expected to begin producing cellulosic ethanol by April. Development is also progressing with the company’s biobased butanol. We achieved our first production of butanol from ethanol with a 99.8 percent purity, he said, noting a basic engineering package is being prepared for the Ravenna, Neb., plant, with commercial-scale production planned for 2015.