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US ethanol stocks, days of supply plunge to lowest recorded level: EIA

Highlights

US overall ethanol stocks and days of supply for the reporting week ended last Friday both fell to their lowest recorded levels by the Energy Information Administration, agency data showed Wednesday.

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Specifically, US overall weekly ethanol stocks plunged 538,000 barrels to 14.961 million barrels.

The previous record low was at 15.39 million barrels for the reporting week ended October 4. The EIA first started tracking ethanol stocks in the reporting week ended June 4, 2010.


The significant drop in overall ethanol stocks was on draws in every region except the Gulf Coast.

East Coast ethanol stocks fell to their own record low, shrinking 267,000 barrels to 4.888 million barrels. The previous record low was at 5.041 million barrels in the reporting week ended October 11.

Midwest ethanol stocks reversed course after a four-week incline, shedding 219,000 barrels to a four-week low of 5.065 million barrels.

Ethanol stocks in the Rocky Mountain region edged down 9,000 barrels to 287,000 barrels. West Coast ethanol stocks were on a three-week descent, moving down 98,000 barrels to an eight-week low of 2.08 million barrels.

Gulf Coast ethanol stocks, on the other hand, were on a three-week incline, rising 56,000 barrels to 2.642 million barrels.

Although the weekly refiner and blender net ethanol input climbed 19,000 b/d to a 16-week high of 870,000 b/d, the record-low overall ethanol stocks caused the weekly ethanol days of supply -- calculated by dividing weekly ethanol stock levels by the weekly refiner and blender ethanol net input -- to drop to its own record low as it sank 1 day to 17.2 days of supply. The previous record low was at 17.4 days of supply for the reporting week ended June 28.

Weekly ethanol production, however, rose for the third week in a row, gaining 14,000 b/d to 911,000 b/d, the highest level in almost 17 months as it had not been this high since the reporting week ended June 8, 2012, when it was at 920,000 b/d.

There were no ethanol imports registered for the fourth consecutive week.

The weekly overall amount of gasoline produced jumped 304,000 b/d to a 10-week high of 9.434 million b/d, while the weekly amount of gasoline blended with ethanol moved up 132,000 b/d to a three-week high of 8.647 million b/d.

FOUR-WEEK ROLLING AVERAGE UP

As the gain in the weekly overall amount of gasoline produced outpaced that of the weekly amount of gasoline blended with ethanol, the weekly ethanol blending percentage dipped 1.6 percentage points to a six-week low of 91.7%.

The amount of gasoline blended with ethanol is calculated by adding the volume of reformulated gasoline blended with ethanol and conventional gasoline blended with ethanol. The ethanol blending percentage is calculated by dividing the weekly amount of gasoline blended with ethanol by weekly total gasoline production.

The four-week rolling average of gasoline climbed 132,000 b/d, or 1.5%, to a seven-week high of 8.944 million b/d, 3.24% higher than it was at this time last year. Through 2013 so far, gasoline demand was 0.59% higher than the same time period in 2012.

The four-week rolling average of the refiner and blender net ethanol input edged up 6,000 b/d, or 0.7%, to an eight-week high of 861,000 b/d.

With a greater proportional increase in the four-week rolling average of gasoline demand than the four-week rolling average of the refiner and blender net ethanol input, the four-week rolling average of the ethanol blending rate -- calculated by dividing the four-week rolling average of the net ethanol input rolling average by the four-week rolling average of gasoline demand -- nudged down 0.07 percentage point to a four-week low of 9.63%, 0.37 percentage point shy of the 10% "blend wall."

Most non-flex-fuel vehicles in the US currently run on E10, or a 10% ethanol-gasoline mix. Some newer model years also have US Environmental Protection Agency clearance to run on E15.

The blend wall, which some observers think could be hit this year, describes when the maximum amount of the US gasoline pool has been blended with 10% ethanol. Refiners then will be under pressure to run higher ethanol blends, buy renewable credits known as RINs, or push for Congress to alter the Renewable Fuel Standard.

RINs are a credit that can be used to meet federal renewables mandates for fuel sold in the US. Refiners and other obligated parties can meet the targets by blending renewables like biodiesel and ethanol with fuel like diesel and gasoline, buying RINs, exporting refined products or altering their production of fuel that is not subject to the mandates, such as jet fuel.

--Shameek Ghosh, shameek.ghosh@platts.com
--Edited by Richard Rubin, richard.rubin@platts.com