Marathon reportedly considers offering E15

By Matt Thompson | January 04, 2019

Late last year, it was reported that Marathon Petroleum Corporation was considering selling E15 at some of its retail locations. A company spokesperson declined Ethanol Producer Magazine’s request for a comment, saying, “We don’t typically discuss our decision-making regarding specific products or strategies,” and did not state whether a decision has been made. While the company didn’t confirm its study of offering the blend, American Coalition for Ethanol Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty said if there is truth to the report, it’s a good for thing for the E15 market. “It’s a good sign. They’re taking it seriously,” he said.

Lamberty said while some petroleum companies may be considering the option, pressure within the market to offer E15 will likely come from the retailers and station owners themselves. “I don’t think that it’s probably going to be something where the oil companies force it down retailers’ throats,” he said. “If retailers want it, that’s the way it’s going to get into the market.”

Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, agrees. “As you look at who is selling E15 today, it’s independent retailers who really don’t have any refining assets or aren’t in the business of actually making fuel,” he said.

Cooper said that when a petroleum-branded retailer commits to offering E15, it will be a crucial step for the market. “I do think it is going to be significant when we get the first refiner-branded or oil-branded retail chain to begin selling E15. I don’t have any idea who that’s going to be … but when you start to see companies that are in the business of making gasoline also offering E15, I think that will be a critical turning point for the industry,” he said.

Once those retailers do decide to offer the blend, they’ll be welcome within the market, said Leigh Claffey, spokeswoman for Growth Energy. “We’d welcome other petroleum companies interested in joining the growing list of retailers who support cleaner, more environmentally friendly renewable fuels while expanding customer access to E15.”