U.S. ethanol exports down, while maintaining net exporter title

By Holly Jessen | April 11, 2013

U.S. ethanol exports decreased by a third from January to February, landing at a total of 42.5 million gallons of denatured and undenatured (non-beverage) ethanol, according to the most recent government data. “U.S. monthly ethanol exports have been below this level only once in the last two years,” said Ann Lewis, research analyst for the Renewable Fuels Association, in a blog posted to the RFA website April 9. 

At the same time, the U.S. remained a net exporter of ethanol, as it was the previous month. Year-to-date ethanol exports are 30 percent lower than they were at the same time last year. Lewis estimated the U.S. is on pace to export a total of 637 million gallons by the end of the year. In 2012 738.7 million gallons of U.S. ethanol was exported, a 38 percent decrease from the record amount exported in 2011. 

Exports to the European Union were “virtually non-existent” for the month of February, Lewis noted. An EU anti-dumping investigation resulted in a five-year $83.03 per metric ton tariff or duty on U.S. ethanol, which officially went into effect Feb. 23. 

In all, 28.1 million gallons of denatured ethanol for fuel use was exported in February, a 33 percent decrease from the month before. Canada remained the top destination, receiving 77 percent of the total. The remainder went to the United Arab Emirates, Peru and the Netherlands. Undenatured ethanol for fuel use also decreased, going down 32 percent to 13.3 million gallons. Brazil was at the top of the list, receiving 44 percent of the total, followed by the Philippines and Mexico. Shipments of denatured and undenatured ethanol for non-fuel, non-beverage uses were at 1.2 million gallons, a drop of 42 percent.

Ethanol imports to the U.S. were also down 57 percent. In all, 20 million gallons of fuel ethanol came into the U.S. in February, the lowest amount imported since May of last year, government data showed. Nearly half of the imports came from Jamaica while the remaining amounts were from El Salvador and Brazil.

On the other hand, exports of distillers grains increased 6 percent from January to February, totaling up to 617,894 metric tons. That number is on par with average monthly distillers grain exports in 2012, Lewis pointed out. China came back as the No. 1 destination, bringing in 148,256 metric tons, or a quarter of the February export total. The remaining amounts went to Mexico, Turkey, South Korea and Vietnam.