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US EIA says ethanol output, stocks climb 25,000 b/d on week to 1.040 mil b/d

Houston — US ethanol production averaged 1.040 million b/d in the week that ended October 5, up 25,000 b/d week on week, Energy Information Administration data showed Thursday.

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The data was delayed by one day due to the Columbus Day holiday on Monday.

Output in the most recent reporting week rose 73,000 b/d or 7.55% from the year-ago week. Production was on the high end of market expectations.

Though seasonal maintenance likely kept some product out of the market, low corn basis levels have kept many plants running. Market participants have also awaited the appearance of Elite Octane's newly-built Atlantic, Iowa, plant in the EIA's report, which could have influenced the higher production figure.

Total stocks added 576,000 barrels, focused on builds in the three coastal regions. Inventories were 2.498 million barrels above the same week last year, the largest year-on-year build since early January. The weekly stock increase was above market expectations.

The Gulf Coast rose by 308,000 barrels for the largest increase. The Gulf Coast is the most common origin for ethanol exports from the US and low prices in recent weeks may have prompted increased buying interest from abroad, encouraging staging for exports.

The West Coast added 256,000 barrels. The EIA reported 71,000 b/d of imports, the highest import figure since late December, 2012. 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.

Multiple vessels were reported to have landed in California after loading in Brazil. The increased California inventories have weighed on prices in California, the largest market on the West Coast. Offers in for rail cars into California have fallen over the past week without attracting bids.

East Coast inventories expanded by 157,000 barrels. With lower prices in California, the New York Harbor has become more attractive for shippers. New York Harbor is the largest hub in the East Coast. The effect of Hurricane Michael's path of destruction across the southeast will appear in next week's EIA report.

Midwest inventories were 148,000 barrels lower on the week. The Midwest is host to the largest number of ethanol plants across all US regions. Higher prices in other regions and growing export interest in the Gulf Coast likely prompted traders to move product out of the Midwest.

The four-week rolling average of the refiner and blender net ethanol input fell 1,000 b/d to 915,000 b/d, while the weekly average slid 4,000 b/d to 913,000 b/d.

The four-week rolling average of gasoline demand, represented by product supplied, fell 143,000 b/d to 9.175 million b/d, while the weekly average fell 24,000 b/d to 9.078 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 9.97% from 9.83%.

US ETHANOL STOCKS, OCTOBER 5 (BARRELS)

Region Total Change %Change Change/year
East Coast 8,099,000 157,000 1.98 760,000
Midwest 7,820,000 -148,000 -1.86 862,000
Gulf Coast 4,737,000 308,000 6.95 752,000
Rocky Mountain 383,000 4,000 1.06 0,000
West Coast 2,982,000 256,000 9.39 125,000
Total 24,021,000 576,000 2.46 2,498,000

Source: US Energy Information Administration (EIA)

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

--Edited by Richard Rubin, richard.rubin@spglobal.com