Weekly ethanol production remains flat, stocks set new record

By Erin Voegele | April 23, 2020

U.S. ethanol production fell only 1 percent the week ending April 17, to an average of 563,000 barrels per day, according to data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration on April 22. While production again fell below the lowest level recorded since the agency began reporting weekly ethanol production in mid-2010, the freefall in production levels seems to be flattening.

Ethanol production has been falling sharply in recent weeks due to decreased liquid fuel demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. When compared to the same week of 2019, ethanol production was down approximately 485,000 barrels per day. When compared to the production during the final week of February 2020, production as down approximately 516,000 barrels per day—a nearly 50 percent drop in less than two months.

Ethanol is not the only liquid fuel being impacted by COVID-19 and falling demand. According to the EIA, finished motor gasoline supplied for the week ending April 17 was at 5.311 million barrels, up slightly from 5.081 million barrels the previous week. Despite small increase, production volumes of finished motor gasoline are still far below levels seen prior to the COVID-19 crisis, which averaged close to 10 million barrels per day in late 2019 and early 2020.

Weekly ending stocks of ethanol set yet another new record the week ending April 17, reaching 27.689 million barrels, up from the prior record of 27.469 million barrels set the previous week.

The EIA currently expects low ethanol production rates to persist for several months. The agency released its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook on April 7, predicting that ethanol production will average 630,000 gallons per day during the second quarter of this year, increasing to 740,000 barrels per day in the third quarter.