Friday, July 2, 2010

E15 Update

The EPA announced last week that the agency was delaying the decision on whether to grant a waiver to allow E15 in gasoline, citing the agency’s desire to wait until the DOE has completed its engine testing in September. The DOE engine testing is focused on late model Tier II emission control vehicles that went into production in 2007. In announcing this delay, the EPA intimated that it may only approve a waiver for these types of vehicles, and older vehicles may not be part of the waiver. The ethanol industry was hoping for a minimum waiver that included vehicles 2001 or younger that would have made more than half the existing fleet eligible for E15. Backing up the waiver to 2007 or younger will shrink the available vehicles to approximately 20% of the fleet. This type of waiver will do little for the ethanol industry. As we have discussed previously, a bifurcated market will have gas station liability issues, product labeling issues, and distribution issues for the gasoline marketer offering clear unleaded 87, E10, E15, E85, and premium gasoline.

ADM has petitioned the EPA to consider an E12 waiver based on the “substantially similar” concept that bypasses any engine testing by deeming the product substantially similar. This approach appears to be a long shot. The year and half delay in making any type of decision by the EPA is indicative of the difficulty in moving the gasoline market past E10 with the existing fleet of vehicles. Always keep in mind that when a difficult decision is required by a government bureaucrat that involves risk, the “make no decision” reflex will win out, as evidenced by the long delay on this E15 decision.

We believe the clear path to large ethanol consumption is to focus on moving the fleet towards E85-capable vehicles. In order to achieve the desired amount of renewable ethanol in the US gasoline pool, the solution that Brazil has embraced is the Flex-Fuel Vehicle (FFV). The FFV in Brazil has been tremendously successful in developing the ethanol fuel market in that country. It is very inexpensive to produce an FFV versus a non-FFV, so that is not an impediment. The key to unlocking the E85 market is getting the fuel dispenser infrastructure in place. There is proposed legislation to mandate the auto manufacturers to produce 90% of the fleet as FFV’s by 2013, and the legislation offers substantial federal grants for blender pump installation at gas stations.

Looking forward into 2011, the RFS mandate increases by 600 million gallons, and the small refiner exemption will be removed. These two actions will be enough to complete 100% penetration of E10 into the gasoline pool and consume all the production scheduled to come online by the end of this year. E15 is not necessary to consume all the domestically produced ethanol over the next 18 months, but the delay is having a negative impact in market psychology.

No comments:

Post a Comment