US biodiesel exports hit second highest monthly total on record

Shipments reach a total of 28.5 million gallons in September

US biodiesel exports continued to exceed imports in September, reaching the second-highest monthly total on record, according to data from the US Census Bureau.

The US exported 28.5 million gallons of biodiesel in September, which was a 71% year-on-year increase and a 7% increase compared with exports recorded a month earlier.

The September total - which marked the fifth consecutive month that exports have exceeded imports - fell 1.7 million gallons short of the previous record set earlier this year, the US Census Bureau data showed.

The primary destinations for US biodiesel exports in September were Canada, Peru, and Germany, which collectively received 99.9% of the US export total, while fractional amounts were exported to five additional countries.

Canada alone, however, claimed 90.6% of the export volume, the data showed.

Biodiesel imports meanwhile reached 19.68 million gallons in September, which was a 12% rise compared with the same period of last year, and a 17% month-on-month rise.

The increase in imports was largely due to larger volumes arriving from Germany, the data showed.

Five countries shipped biodiesel to the US during September, while Germany and Canada were the top suppliers, providing 94% of the monthly volume.

Fractional amounts, meanwhile, were received from France, Malaysia, and South Korea.

Renewable diesel imports

While the US Census Bureau does not cover renewable diesel (RD) – also known as hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) – imports, data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), which lags by one month, shows that RD imports in August totaled 17.7 million gallons.

This marked a decrease of almost 30% compared with August of 2021 and a 29% drop from levels recorded a month earlier.

The US is expected to increase its renewable diesel (RD) imports as additional foreign capacity comes online, especially with Neste’s planned Singapore expansion.

The Singapore refinery owned by the Finnish renewable fuels producer completed a scheduled maintenance turnaround that was expected to last six weeks.

According to Neste, the turnaround ended in September but caused some product delays, which reduced shipment totals for the month.

Meanwhile, according to Fastmarkets Agriculture, US RD capacity, including co-processing, is expected to double in 2023 compared with 2022 levels as plans to develop new production steam ahead.

US RD capacity is expected to reach approximately 1.76 billion gallons by the end of 2022, but with an additional 11 projects anticipated to start operations in 2023, production could increase by up to 50% to reach 3.6 billion gallons.

Last week, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and ethanol lobby Growth Energy agreed to delay the issuance of the proposed 2023 Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) by two weeks.

The EPA is now required to propose the biofuel requirements by no later than November 30, which Growth Energy noted in a statement does not affect the consent decree deadline for finalizing the RVOs by no later than June 14 of next year.

The delay notice came several weeks after a group of US senators wrote to the EPA calling for greater RVOs ahead of the original November release.

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