EIA data shows US imports of biomass-based diesel spiked in March

By Ron Kotrba | June 03, 2013

U.S. imports of biomass-based diesel skyrocketed at the end of the first quarter as the nation imported more than eight times the volume in March over February, according to data released May 30 from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Gross U.S. imports of biomass-based diesel jumped to nearly 17.3 million gallons in March, up from only 2.2 million gallons in February.

March U.S. imports include the first shipments of biomass-based diesel from Argentina since 2009, along with the only volumes of biomass-based diesel on EIA record from Indonesia. The two major biodiesel-exporting countries supplied the EU with much of the continent’s imported biodiesel in 2011 and 2012 until the trade war that began last year culminated late last month with the European Commission levying provisional tariffs on Argentine and Indonesian product. In March, Argentina shipped approximately 6.3 million gallons of biomass-based diesel to the U.S., while Indonesia exported about 2.1 million gallons to the U.S.

“We’re clearly seeing some small volumes of imports starting to come in given market economics with the tax incentive,” said Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs for the National Biodiesel Board, “but we expect the vast majority of production will continue to be from domestic producers. We have always advocated that the biodiesel tax incentive be structured for producers instead of blenders, and we will continue to push for that change.”

The news of U.S. imports of biomass-based diesel from Argentina and Indonesia comes just weeks after Luis Zubizarreta, president of the Argentine Biofuels Chamber, was quoted in a Reuters article as saying he expects Argentine biodiesel producers to gain RFS2 registration approval from U.S. EPA in the near future.

Also in March, the U.S. imported more than 5.5 million gallons of biomass-based diesel from Germany; and more than 3.3 million gallons from Canada.  

In addition to biomass-based diesel imports, the U.S. imported nearly 8.5 million gallons of “other renewable diesel” in March from Finland, Singapore and Canada.

The EIA defines “biomass-based diesel” as “biodiesel and other renewable diesel fuel or diesel fuel blending components derived from biomass, but excluding renewable diesel fuel coprocessed with petroleum feedstocks.” It defines “other renewable diesel” as “diesel fuel and diesel fuel blending components produced from renewable sources that are coprocessed with petroleum feedstocks and meet requirements of advanced biofuels.” 


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