Celanese sees wait for US natgas-based ethanol fuel-blending bill

31 January 2012 19:47  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Celanese is optimistic that US regulators will ultimately allow fuel blenders to use ethanol made from natural gas, but the process will take some time, an executive for the US-based acetyls producer said on Tuesday.

US Representative Pete Olson (Republican-Texas) introduced House Bill 3773, which would allow fuel blenders to satisfy the nation's ethanol-blending regulations by using ethanol produced by hydrocarbons other than petroleum.

Celanese can produce ethanol from natural gas or coal by using acetic acid as an intermediary, according to a recent patent.

If Olson's bill becomes law, Celanese could enter the nation's fuel ethanol market, which the company estimates is worth $40bn (€30bn).

However, US regulations must first allow fuel blenders to use ethanol made from natural gas. Right now, regulations require blenders to use ethanol produced from corn or other bio-based feedstock.

"We are optimistic, but it will take a while for the legislation to get passed in the US," said Celanese CEO David Weidman during an earnings conference call.

If the company does enter the US fuel ethanol market, it would become a low-cost producer, said Steven Sterin, president of the company's advanced fuel technologies business.

"We still think we will be a competitive, certainly versus some of these new low-energy-density technologies, whether it is wastes or biomass," he said.

Even when considering carbon-dioxide emissions, Celanese's ethanol technology still stands above nearly all other options for the use of natural gas, Sterin said.

($1 = €0.76)

By: Al Greenwood
+1 713 525 2645

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