ICIS' coverage of the Ethanol market is published weekly in Asia, Europe, Latin America. Price assessments cover anhydrous and hydrous grades in some regions, beverage and industrial grades in others.
Our market intelligence gathered by our locally based experts gives unbiased and independent commentary to support you making key commercial choices. In addition, there is Fuel Ethanol coverage in Europe giving weekly prices, news and analysis.
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Ethanol: Market overview
Updated to Q4 2017
Supply of fuel grade ethanol to Asia is expected to increase due to fewer cargoes being shipped to Brazil. Hydrous ethanol supply could also increase due to start of harvest season in Pakistan while Brazil supply is expected to also increase.
For Q4, Asia’s demand for US-origin fuel-grade ethanol imports are forecast to remain strong as regional production remains insufficient to meet fuel blending mandates though prices may be capped by an expected strong corn harvest in the US. Demand for hydrous ethanol is expected to improve due to expectations of higher demand for alcoholic beverages in NE Asia.
In the industrial and beverage grade Ethanol markets, stocks should begin low for fermentation grade producers and in particular beet ethanol plants, though should be replenished as the harvest campaign continues. Should lower imports continue, this could continue to restrict supply for 96% REN industrial grade. In the fuel ethanol market, players anticipate the harvest campaign could boost inventories by midway through the fourth quarter.
Demand for industrial and beverage grade ethanol is seen as healthy and stable in the fourth quarter. Fuel grade ethanol demand is expected to soften as winter is a low period for gasoline consumption, and therefore this affects fuel ethanol needs. The end of the quarter can sometimes experience a slight boost if blenders need to meet their environmental blending targets; it is not clear if this is a trend to be expected in 2017.
In the fourth quarter, the biodiesel industry will continue to face unprecedented uncertainty. The US Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) biofuel volume mandate for 2017 took effect at the end of the first quarter, after a regulatory freeze introduced by the Trump administration expired.
There is concern over the point of obligation for blending and most market players do not want to see any change in 2017. The US National Biodiesel Board (NBB) filed an antidumping and countervailing duty petition with the US government to investigate imports from Argentina and Indonesia, saying they have violated trade laws by flooding the US market with dumped, subsidised biodiesel. The final decision for that trade fight should come in the fourth quarter.
Corn harvest is expected to be healthy so plenty of feedstock to produce the oxygenate.
Fuel demand typically drops in the last quarter of the year.
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Ethanol news & analysis
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Ethanol is a colourless, flammable volatile liquid, with characteristic odour and burning taste. It is miscible with water, ether, acetone, benzene and a wide range of organic products. Ethanol vapour mixes well with air, and explosive mixtures are easily formed.
The two major outlets for industrial ethanol are as a solvent and in chemical synthesis.
Ethanol is used as a chemical intermediate for the manufacture of ethyl acetate, ethyl acrylate, acetic acid, glycol ethers and ethylamines as well as other products. It is also used as an additive to food and beverages.
A large outlet for ethanol is as a fuel, oxygenate additive to gasoline and a gasoline extender.
In addition, ethanol can be used in perfume due to its light odour and quick evaporation.