EIA: US Ethanol Stocks Gain; Demand Hits 21-Week High

OAKHURST, N.J. (DTN) -- Domestic ethanol inventories gained for the first time in five weeks despite continued strength in blending demand and a slide in production during the week ended March 19, according to the latest Energy Information Administration (EIA) report.

Federal data show total ethanol stocks last week rose 469,000 barrels (bbl) to 21.809 million bbl, a two-week high yet 9.5% below the same week in 2020.

EIA reported East Coast PADD 1 stock levels moved off a better than two-month low, up 206,000 bbl to 7.546 million bbl, 12% lower than supply on-hand this time last year; Midwest PADD 2 inventory was drawn down for the first time in four weeks, down 184,000 bbl to 7.360 million bbl, 7.5% below a year ago. At the Gulf Coast PADD 3, stocks gained 179,000 bbl to a three-week high 4.531 million bbl, 2.3% higher than last year; data show West Coast PADD 5 stocks moved off a near seven-year low, rising 259,000 bbl to a three-week high 2.033 million bbl.

Overall ethanol plant production gave back the prior week's hike and then some, falling 49,000 barrels per day (bpd) or 5% to 922,000 bpd, a three-week low while down 8.3% versus the same time in 2020. Four-week average output at 920,000 bpd was 121,000 bpd or 11.6% below the corresponding four weeks in 2020.

Midwest PADD 2 production tumbled 52,000 bpd to 876,000 bpd while Gulf Coast PADD 3 output added 3,000 bpd to 14,000 bpd.

Blending activity, a measure of demand, held higher, up 3,000 bpd to a 21-week high 839,000 bpd last week, 4% below the corresponding week in 2020, data show. Blending activity during the four weeks ended March 19 averaged 897,000 bpd, 74,000 bpd below the comparable year-ago period.

Midwest PADD 2 blending dipped 1,000 bpd on the week while at the Gulf Coast demand edged up 4,000 bpd. For the four weeks ended March 19, EIA reports PADD 2 blending activity 18,000 bpd below the year prior while PADD 3 activity was down 11,000 bpd.