EIA: Ethanol production expected to increase slightly in 2018

By Erin Voegele | January 13, 2017

The U.S. Energy Information Administration recently released the January edition of its Short-Term Energy Outlook, predicting ethanol production will average approximately 1 million barrels per day in 2017, increasing slightly to 1.02 million gallons per day in 2018. In 2016, production averaged 1 million barrels per day. In its December STEO, the EIA predicted ethanol production would average only 990,000 barrels per day in 2016, increasing to 1 million barrels per day in 2017. 

On a quarterly basis, ethanol production is expected to average 1 million barrels per day during the first and second quarters of 2017, increasing to 1.02 million barrels per day during the third quarter, and falling to 1 million barrels per day in the fourth quarter. In 2018, ethanol production is expected to be at 1.03 million barrels per day during the first quarter, falling to 1.02 million barrels per day during the second and third quarters, and falling to 990,000 barrels per day during the fourth quarter. 

Ethanol consumption averaged approximately 940,000 barrels per day last year, and is expected to be maintained at that level in 2017. In 2018, ethanol consumption is expected to increase to 950,000 barrels per day. According to the EIA, this level of consumption results in the ethanol share of the total gasoline tool averaging approximately 10 percent in both 2017 and 2018. Only marginal increases in higher-level ethanol blends are assumed to occur during the STEO forecast period.

Biodiesel production averaged 99,000 barrels per day in 2016 and is expected to increase to an average of 104,000 barrels per day this year and 111,000 barrels per day next year. Net imports of biomass-based diesel are expected to increase from 47,000 barrels per day in 2016 to 51,000 barrels per day in 2017 and 57,000 barrels per day in 2018.

Within the STEO, the EIA predicts U.S. regular gasoline retail prices will increase from an average of $2.25 per gallon in December to $2.31 per gallon during the first quarter of 2017. Overall, gasoline prices are forecast to average $2.38 per gallon this year, increasing to $2.41 per gallon in 2018.

The EIA’s most recently weekly ethanol production data shows a new record was set the week ending Jan. 6, with production reaching an average of 1.049 million barrels per day. The most recent monthly import data shows the U.S. imported only 31,000 barrels of ethanol in September, all from Brazil. In October, the U.S. exported nearly 3.14 million barrels of ethanol, with top export destinations of Brazil, Canada and India.