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US EIA says ethanol output dips to 1.072 million b/d while stocks build on week

Houston — US ethanol production averaged 1.072 million b/d in the week ended August 10, down 28,000 b/d week on week, Energy Information Administration data showed Wednesday.

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Output in the most recent reporting week rose 13,000 b/d or 1.23% year on year. Production was within market expectations, though at the lower end of estimates.

Milder weather in the Midwest has allowed plants to raise output as they have needed to run cooling equipment less.

Stocks added a total of 94,000 barrels, spread over small changes in most regions. Inventories were 1.189 million barrels above the same week last year and at their highest level since mid-March. The build was within market expectations.

The West Coast led the increase, rising by 85,000 barrels, with the EIA again reporting no imports on the week. The EIA has not reported any ethanol imports since the week that ended December 1, 2017. The West Coast is the most common destination for imports as Brazilian sugarcane-based ethanol generates both D5 RINs and Low Carbon Fuel Standard credits under California's LCFS.

The Cielo di Salerno is due to arrive in San Francisco on August 20, according to cFlow, Platts trade flow software, the first of several vessels expected to arrive before the end of the year carrying ethanol from Brazil to California.

East Coast inventories added 48,000 barrels on the week. Inventories in New York Harbor, the largest trading hub on the East Coast, spent much of July short, with market participants searching for product. But the arrival of delayed trains reduced premiums in that market as supply balanced. Shipping interest waned as premiums had fallen and likely drew down product once again.

The Gulf Coast had a 39,000-barrel increase to a fresh all-time high for the region after last week's record. The Gulf Coast is the most common origin for ethanol exports from the US, so some of the increase may have been to meet export demand. Currently low prices could encourage export bookings.

The Midwest shed 80,000 barrels as traders moved product out of the region. The Midwest is host to the largest number of ethanol plants of all US regions.

The four-week rolling average of the refiner and blender net ethanol input rose 8,000 b/d to 944,000 b/d, while the weekly average climbed 7,000 b/d to 948,000 b/d.

The four-week rolling average of gasoline demand, represented by product supplied, slid 49,000 b/d to 9.646 million b/d, while the weekly average rose 166,000 b/d to 9.512 million b/d.

The four-week rolling average of the ethanol blending rate, calculated by dividing the refiner and blender ethanol input by gasoline demand, rose to 9.79% from 9.65% the previous week.

US ETHANOL STOCKS, AUGUST 10 (barrels)

Region Total Change % Change Change/year
East Coast 7,310,000 48,000 0.66 406,000
Midwest 7,730,000 -80,000 -1.02 455,000
Gulf Coast 5,152,000 39,000 0.76 760,000
Rocky Mountain 339,000 4,000 1.19 12,000
West Coast 2,487,000 85,000 3.54 -433,000
Total 23,017,000 94,000 0.41 1,189,000

Source: Energy Information Administration (EIA)

--Joshua Pedrick, joshua.pedrick@spglobal.com

--Edited by Jonathan Dart, jonathan.dart@spglobal.com