Per the US Census Bureau, the United States imported 92,901,091 gallons of biodiesel during the month of November. This is a 21% increase from the 76.83 million gallons imported in October and is 63 million gallons more than what was imported during November of 2015. In a year over year 11-month comparison, biodiesel imports are up an eye-popping 93% from 2015. 2015 held the previous high for all-time biodiesel import activity. Through November of 2015, biodiesel imports totaled 310.2 million gallons. This year they are 597.6 million gallons.
Out of the seven countries recording shipments to the US, three of them account for 94% of the activity through November. Argentina, Indonesia, and Canada are the Big Three. Argentina shipped 61 million gallons, 66% of the monthly total and 11% more than what they shipped in October. Indonesia sent 15.9 million gallons, accounting for 17% of the monthly total and 58% more than shipped in October. Canada exported 7.1 million gallons, 8% of the Nov total and up 10% month over month.
Argentina, Indonesia, and Canada account for 94% of all biodiesel imported in 2016, 562.93 million gallons. Renewable diesel imports, not part of the US Census Monthly report data, were 177.5 million gallons through October and are projected to be 205 million gallons at the end of November.
By year-end, The Jacobsen forecasts that biodiesel imports will reach 690 million gallons and renewable diesel imports will be 234 million. Combined, the import total could achieve 924 million gallons. The D4 mandate is 1.9 billion gallons for 2016. A figure that was easily surpassed. Biodiesel imports from Malaysia and Indonesia do not have approved pathways to offset the D4 mandate, but can produce D6 RINs. Backing out Malaysia’s and Indonesia’s 2016 production, the remaining biodiesel imports are expected to have satisfied 30% of the mandate. Adding in expected renewable diesel imports, the total amount of the mandate satisfied by foreign countries advances to 42%.
The blender’s tax credit expired for the 5th time since being put in place in 2005. Previous expirations occurred at the end of 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2014. Typically, import activity subsides in years that the tax credit is not in place. This can most recently be seen in 2014. In 2013, the BTC was put back in place in January, made retroactive to Jan of 2012, and extended through December of 2013. Imports that year hit a record high of 339.7 million gallons for biodiesel. The credit lapsed until the end of 2014. Without the BTC in place, 2014 biodiesel imports only totaled 193.98 million gallons. In December of 2014 the BTC was retroactively restored for all of 2014 but it was not extended for 2015 and at 12/31/14 it lapsed again. However, in 2015, imports hit an all-time of high (at the time) of 356.1 million gallons.
Imports grew 184% in 2015, even in the absence of the blenders tax credit being in place. An extra 162,131,319 gallons of biodiesel were imported and almost all of it was due to increased import activity from Argentina. During 2015, Argentine imports increased by 322% or 151,962,878 gallons, accounting for all but 10 million of the increased import activity.
The blenders tax credit was reinstated in December of 2015, retroactively covering all of 2015 and extending through 2016. This has allowed 2016 to be a banner year for imports. With the tax credit now lapsed, it is likely that imports will remain strong for 2017. 62% of the biodiesel imported during 2015 originated in Argentina. Argentine imports are projected to total 366.67 million gallons for 2016, which is more than all the biodiesel imported in 2015. Argentina has no other home for their biodiesel. The EU has appealed the ruling allowing Argentine imports and Peru has imposed significant tariffs on Argentine shipments. This has basically left the US as Argentina’s export market. Argentina is also supporting its industry. They recently announced that they will continue and extend their differential tax treatment for the production of biodiesel throughout 2017.