Italian customs seize North American biodiesel shipment - EBB

31 March 2010 19:56  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--Italian customs officials have seized a shipment of biodiesel from North America on suspicion the renewable fuel was sold in violation of European Union (EU) import rules, the European Biodiesel Board (EBB) said on Wednesday.

EBB project manager Amandine Lacourt said that Italian customs agents seized 10,000 tonnes of biodiesel brought into the ports of Venice and Trieste in mid-March.

Although the biodiesel was listed as originating in Quebec City, Canada, Italian authorities are alleging the material is subsidised biodiesel from the US, Lacourt said. That would place it in violation of duties the EU levied on material in March.

“The product was sold at such a discount that the seller was acting as if he would have expected the subsidy,” Lacourt said.

Lacourt declined to name the parties involved in the transaction. Attempts to reach the Italian customs agency were not immediately successful.

Lacourt said the blended biodiesel left Quebec City on 23 February at about $750/tonne FOB (free on board), or about $2.49/gal. That would be nearly $1/gal cheaper than B100 (100% biodiesel, 0% traditional diesel) sold in the US at that time - the same amount as the blending subsidy.

It would also be a significant discount to European biodiesel, which on 24 March was selling for up to $1,000/tonne depending on feedstock type, according to data from global chemical market intelligence service ICIS pricing.

In March, the EU levied tariffs of €213-409/tonne ($284-553/tonne) on US biodiesel blends of B20 or higher, saying the $1/gal tax credit blenders received from the federal government amounted to an unfair subsidy. The subsidy expired on 31 December 2009, but Congress passed an extension in March that would take effect retroactively once signed into law by the White House.

The fuel seized at the port was a blend higher than B20, Lacourt said.

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) in the US did not immediately respond to calls for comment.

($1 = €0.75)

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By: Ben Lefebvre
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