US East Coast ethanol stocks edged down 8,000 barrels in the reporting week ended Friday to 5.337 million barrels, Energy Information Administration data showed Wednesday.
This was a six-week descent to the lowest recorded level by the EIA since it first started recording weekly ethanol inventories in the reporting week ended June 4, 2010.
Overall US ethanol stocks shrank 104,000 barrels to a 13-week low of 15.509 million barrels -- also the second-lowest recorded level by the EIA -- on stock draws in every US region.
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The only time overall US ethanol stocks were lower was in the reporting week ended June 28, when they were at 15.445 million barrels.
Midwest ethanol stocks fell 15,000 barrels to a four-week low of 4.996 million barrels as Gulf Coast ethanol stocks dropped 71,000 barrels to a three-week low of 2.625 million barrels.
Ethanol stocks in the Rocky Mountain region dipped 5,000 barrels to 278,000 barrels, the lowest level in more than eight months as they were last this low in the reporting week ended January 18, when they were also at 278,000 barrels.
West Coast ethanol stocks also slid 5,000 barrels to 2.303 million barrels.
Weekly ethanol production, however, jumped 43,000 b/d to an 11-week high of 875,000 b/d.
Weekly ethanol imports shed 34,000 b/d to 14,000 b/d, all headed to the East Coast.
The weekly ethanol days of supply -- calculated by dividing weekly ethanol stock levels by the weekly refiner and blender ethanol net input -- was stable at 18.3 days of supply as the proportional decreases in overall stocks and the weekly refiner and blender net ethanol input were similar, with both values declining only 0.01%.
The weekly overall amount of gasoline produced moved down 101,000 b/d to a 20-week low of 8.929 million b/d. The weekly amount of gasoline blended with ethanol fell 46,000 b/d to 8.443 million b/d.
As the decrease in the weekly overall amount of gasoline produced was greater than that of the weekly amount of gasoline blended with ethanol, the weekly ethanol blending percentage edged up 0.5 percentage points to a 14-week high of 94.6%.
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 demand was on a six-week slide, dropping 141,000 b/d to a 17-week low of 8.752 million b/d. Gasoline demand, however, was 0.8% higher than it was at this time last year, and year-to-date, current-year levels were 0.42% higher than 2012.
The four-week rolling average of the refiner and blender net ethanol input moved down for the fifth week in a row, nudging down 4,000 b/d to a 20-week low of 843,000 b/d.
With a greater decrease 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 net ethanol input rolling average by the four-week rolling average of gasoline demand -- rose 0.11 percentage points to a 13-week high of 9.63%, 0.37 percentage point down from the 10% "blend wall."
Currently, most non-flex-fuel vehicles in the US 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, firstname.lastname@example.org --Edited by Katharine Fraser, email@example.com