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'Big oil' may block branded retail blender pumps: Green Plains

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'Big oil' may block branded retail blender pumps: Green Plains


US ethanol makers expect E15 (15% ethanol-gasoline blend) to hit the USmarket in 2011, but "big oil" may attempt to block that, Todd Becker, CEO ofethanol maker Green Plains Renewable Energy, said Friday during an earningsconference call. Starting in 2011, the ethanol industry expects to be "fighting for theisland," said Becker of gasoline retail sites. "Big oil controls the island[and] won't allow access to the blender pumps," he said. There are some independent retailers, not bound by oil company brandingcontracts, who are "standing by" to sell E15, he said. The US Environmental Protection Agency on October 13 approved the use ofup to 15% ethanol (E15) in gasoline for conventional vehicles of model year2007 and younger. A decision on 2001-2006 cars and light trucks is expected byyear-end. For now, EPA has approved only E10 for vehicles older than 2007. Carmaker warranties only cover E10 for non-flex fuel vehicles. Blender pumps, which mix gasoline and ethanol at a retail site, areexpected to be used to sell higher ethanol blends. On Thursday, the USDepartment of Agriculture laid out a biofuel plan that would help fund 10,000blender pumps in the US. But, according to Becker, some oil companies will block that. Bothrefiners and retailers have said they are concerned about liability issuesfrom misfueling. At this point, the majors have not told marketers where they stand onbranded sites and blender pumps, according to Dan Gilligan, president of thePetroleum Marketers Association of America. "I have not seen any commentscoming from the major brands," as far as blender pumps, said Gilligan in aninterview Friday. About 100,000 of the US' 160,000 gasoline retail sites are branded, hesaid, noting that all branded contracts have a "slate of fuels" requirementthat sets the fuels a retailer is allowed to sell. Gilligan thought ethanol producers were "jumping to a conclusion" thatthe majors will not allow blender pumps, adding that the oil companies' driveto meet renewables mandates could prompt some to back such a move. Representatives of BP, Shell and ExxonMobil were not immediatelyavailable for comment.--Beth Evans, beth_evans@platts.comSimilar stories appear in Oilgram News. See more information at