EIA predicts increased ethanol consumption in 2018, 2019

By Erin Voegele | January 10, 2018

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has released the January edition of its Short-Term Energy Outlook, predicting that ethanol production in 2018 and 2019 will be maintained at the 2017 level.

Ethanol production averaged 1.03 million barrels per day in 2017. The EIA currently predicts that production level will remain steady at 1.03 million barrels per day this year and next year. In its December STEO, the EIA predicted that ethanol production would increase to 1.04 million barrels per day in 2018.

Ethanol consumption, however, is expected to increase, from 940,000 barrels per day last year to 960,000 barrels per day in 2018 and 970,000 barrels per day in 2019. The EIA said this level of consumption results in the ethanol share of the total gasoline pool increasing from an average of 10.2 percent in 2017 to an average of 10.3 percent in 2018 and 2019. According to the EIA, the increase assumes that recent marginal growth in higher-level ethanol blends continue during the forecast period.

Biodiesel production averaged approximately 105,000 barrels per day last year and is expected to increase to 117,000 barrels per day this year and 128,000 barrels per day next year. The EIA attributes the forecast increase to recent duties imposed on foreign biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia, which is expected to reduce net imports of biodiesel from an estimated 41,000 barrels per day in 2017 to 32,000 barrels per day in 2018 and 35,000 barrels per day in 2019.

The January STEO notes that U.S. regular gasoline retail prices averaged $2.48 per gallon in December, down almost 9 cents per gallon from the November average, but up 22 cents per gallon when compared to the prices during the same period of 2016. U.S. regular gasoline prices averaged $2.41 per gallon last year and are currently expected to increase to $2.57 per gallon this year and $2.58 per gallon next year.

The EIA’s most recent weekly ethanol production data shows production averaged 1.032 million barrels per day the week ending Dec. 29, down from 1.09 million barrels per day the previous week. The most recent monthly import data shows the U.S. imported 69,000 barrels of ethanol in October, all from Canada. During the same month, the U.S. exported 2.231 million barrels of ethanol, primarily to Canada, Spain and India.