Even as the U.S. looks to ethanol as a way to wean itself off foreign petroleum supplies, imports of the biofuel are soaring.
Despite a sharp tariff levied on most ethanol shipped from abroad, importers are finding they can compete with domestic ethanol on price. Some foreign suppliers, especially Brazil, also can provide ethanol more easily in some cases because of shipping bottlenecks in some areas of the U.S.The surge in imports has yet to cause political backlash because U.S. ethanol supplies haven't caught up with demand. But tensions could arise this year as production at a slew of new domestic ethanol plants threatens to outstrip demand. Already, Corn Belt farmers who supply ethanol plants have taken to calling Brazil, the top foreign supplier of ethanol to the U.S., the "Saudi Arabia" of ethanol.
New players are piling into the U.S. ethanol market, including China, the Netherlands and even Pakistan.
U.S. producers can't yet make enough ethanol to supply domestic needs.
Shipping convenience is also a factor. Many of the biggest users of ethanol are on the coasts, while many of the ethanol plants are clustered in the Midwest. For coastal users, it is often simpler and more reliable to have ethanol hauled on a ship from Brazil than on already-strained railroad lines from rural Nebraska or Iowa. Moving the budding ethanol industry "beyond its Midwest roots out to some of the coast routes is a challenge," says Rick Tolman, chief executive of the National Corn Growers Association.
lunes, febrero 12, 2007
Estados Unidos importa biocombustibles
A pesar de los impuestos, aumenta la importación de biocombustible en Estados Unidos. Brasil parece ser el principal beneficiario... the "Saudi Arabia" of ethanol. Interesante artículo, que señala además una ventaja comparativa insospechada para el biocombustible importado: el transporte marítimo.