EIA increases 2017, 2018 ethanol production forecasts

By Erin Voegele | September 13, 2017

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has increased its 2017 and 2018 ethanol production forecasts in the September edition of its Short-Term Energy Outlook. The U.S. is now expected to produce 1.03 million barrels of ethanol per day this year, increasing to 1.04 million barrels per day next year. Last year, production averaged 1 million barrels per day. In the August STEO, the EIA predicted 2017 ethanol production would average 1.02 million barrels per day, falling to 1.01 million barrels per day in 2018.

On a quarterly basis, the EIA predicts ethanol production will average 1.03 million barrels per day during the third and fourth quarters of this year. During the first quarter of 2018, ethanol production is expected to be maintained at 1.03 million barrels per day, increasing to 1.04 million barrels per day during the second and third quarters, and increasing to 1.05 million barrels per day during the fourth quarter of next year.

The EIA currently predicts an average of 940,000 barrels of ethanol per day will be blended into motor gasoline this year, maintaining the 2016 blend volume. In 2018, ethanol blending is expected to increase to 960,000 barrels per day.

The STEO also notes U.S. regular gasoline prices reached $2.69 per gallon on Sept. 11, up 29 cents per gallon from Aug. 28 and the highest weekly average since August 2015. EIA forecasts the average U.S. regular gasoline retail price will be $2.61 per gallon in September, falling to $2.40 per gallon in October. These prices are 25 cents per gallon and 10 cents per gallon higher, respectively, when compared to the forecasts made in the August STEO. Regular gasoline prices are expected to fall to $2.23 per gallon in December.

The EIA’s most recent weekly ethanol production data shows production reached 1.047 million barrels per day the week ending Sept. 8, down from a near record setting 1.06 million barrels per day the previous week. The current weekly ethanol production record sits at 1.061 million barrels per day and was set the week ending Jan. 27. 

The EIA’s most recent monthly import data shows the U.S. imported 252,000 barrels of ethanol in June, all from Brazil. During the same month, the U.S. exported 2.21 million barrels of ethanol, primarily to Canada, Brazil, and India.