EIA Maintains 2016 Ethanol Outlook

OAKHURST, N.J. (DTN) -- In its Short-term Energy Outlook for July, the Energy Information Administration left unchanged its projected demand outlook for ethanol while also holding firm its estimate for production of the fuel blendstock for this year and in 2017.

EIA continued to estimate ethanol production for 2015 at an average of almost 970,000 barrels per day (bpd) and reiterated production estimates for this year and 2017 at 980,000 bpd.

The agency repeated that ethanol consumption in 2015 averaged about 910,000 bpd, while holding steady its forecast for consumption for 2016 and 2017 at roughly 930,000 bpd.

"This level of consumption results in the ethanol share of the total gasoline pool averaging 10% in both 2016 and 2017."

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Nov. 30, 2015, finalized a rule setting Renewable Fuel Standard volumes for 2014 through 2016 and on May 18 released its proposed RFS volumes for 2017 along with finalized biomass-based diesel volumes for 2017. The agency used both the final and proposed volumes to develop the current STEO forecast through 2017.

EIA expects that the largest effect of the RFS targets will be on biomass-based diesel consumption, which includes both biodiesel and renewable diesel and helps to meet the RFS targets for use of biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel. Biodiesel production averaged 82,000 bpd in 2015 and is forecast to average 99,000 bpd this year, unchanged from last month's estimate. In 2017, the estimate is 106,000 bpd, steady on the month. Net imports of biomass-based diesel are also expected to increase from 29,000 bpd in 2015 to 41,000 bpd in 2016 and 47,000 bpd in 2017, each unchanged from the prior two STEOs. EIA assumes about 10,000 bpd of domestic renewable diesel consumption will be used to help meet the biomass-based diesel and advanced biofuels RFS targets in both 2016 and 2017.

The agency estimates that energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide decreased by 2.7% in 2015. Emissions are forecast to decrease by 1.5% this year and then increase by 0.8% in 2017. These forecasts are sensitive to assumptions about weather and economic growth.