APLA '10: Brazil may need to import US ethanol in 2011 – distributor

08 November 2010 22:00  [Source: ICIS news]

RIO DE JANEIRO (ICIS)--Brazil may have to import ethanol from the US in 2011 if wet weather disrupts the start of the country’s next sugarcane harvest in April, a fuel distributor said on Monday.

Supply will be tight going into 2011 and Brazil could run short of anhydrous ethanol if the harvest is delayed, the source said on the sidelines of the 30th Latin American Petrochemical Association (APLA) annual meeting in Rio de Janeiro.

Heavy rainfall could be a problem, the source said, adding that sugarcane fields would be inaccessible and ethanol production compromised.

“It happened in 2004,” the distributor said.

Brazil ethanol supply has tightened in 2010 because of inclement weather in the centre-south region, and also because Brazilian sugarcane mills have increased sugar production at the expense of ethanol.

The centre-south accounts for around 90% of Brazil’s ethanol output. The sugarcane harvest in the area usually runs from April to November.

Brazil is the world’s top ethanol exporter, but in the early 1990s, the country had to import ethanol from the US due to supply shortages.

The US would again be the likely supplier if imports were needed next year, the distributor said.

US ethanol shipments would probably head to the northeast region of Brazil, which is now relying on supply from the centre-south to meet its demand.

Brazil blends anhydrous ethanol in gasoline at a mandated 25%, while hydrous ethanol is used as a stand-alone fuel in flexible-fuel vehicles (FFVs).

The 2010 APLA conference opened on Sunday in Rio de Janeiro with nearly 800 delegates. It will close on Tuesday.

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By: William Lemos
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