New Biodiesel Vehicles and Emissions Reduction Estimates

The makers of the world’s favorite advanced biofuel — a/k/a the biodiesel industry — descended upon Texas to mingle, make and renew ties at the 2018 National Biodiesel Conference. And, to champion new ideas and find new supply chain and distribution partners. Bummer that there wasn’t a biodiesel tax credit extension on offer. (UPDATE: The new budget includes the biodiesel tax credit.) Bummer that diesel’s getting a bad rap in the press. Bummer that Tom Petty isn’t with us any more to sing: “I’ll Stand My Ground, I Won’t Back Down, I know what’s right, got just one life in a world’s that keeps on...

Biodiesel Tax Credit Back In US Budget Deal

by Jim Lane In Washington, the US Congress passed its budget deal, and among the items in the deal was a retroactive restoration of the $1 per gallon biodiesel tax credit for 2017. The bill did not include a provision for 2018 and future years. The budget compromise had run into headwinds in the Senate, in the form of a voting delay imposed by Rand Paul of Kentucky, while opposition in the House from a group of Democrats and hardline conservatives had put the bill into some degree of jeopardy.Renewable Energy Group CEO Randy Howard said “We are pleased that Congress recognized...

Biofuels M&A: 2017 Review and Outlook

by Bruce Comer, Ocean Park Advisors More industry players chose to develop and build new capacity rather than buy plants The North American biofuels industry experienced the fewest merger and acquisition transactions in recent history in 2017. There were only six M&A transactions, with a total estimated value of more than $100 million. They involved eight plants with 297 million gallons per year (MGPY) of production capacity. Half of these deals were for non-operating plants. A fourth deal was for a sub-scale demonstration plant. Contributing to the limited deal flow, two historically active acquirers, Green Plains and REG, did not close...

A Decade Of Unexpected Curves In The Bioeconomy

By Jim Lane Over the years we’ve all seen a lot of curveballs in the advanced bioeconomy. You see companies like Valero, which lobby the United States Congress with unbridled intensity to get rid of the Renewable Fuel Standard, on the verge of becoming the single-biggest producer of RINs in the United States (with news that they might take capacity at Diamond Green Diesel up to 540 million gallons). You see companies like Solazyme which love the Renewable Fuel Standard and drive up to nearly a billion-dollar post-IPO valuation based on delivering fuels at volume, then announcing that there are even...

EPA’s 2018 Renewable Fuel Targets Disappoint Producers

In Washington, the Environmental Protection Agency released its final Renewable Fuel Standard renewable volume obligations for 2018. The agency finalized a total renewable fuel volume of 19.29 billion gallons , of which 4.29 BG is advanced biofuel, including 288 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel. As the Renewable Fuels Association explained: “That leaves a 15 BG requirement for conventional renewable fuels like corn ethanol, consistent with the levels envisioned by Congress in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. The 2018 total RFS volume finalized today represents a minor increase (10  million gallons) over the 2017 standards, and a modest increase...

Renewable Fuel Producers Score A Win

Despite Trump’s vow to roll back all measures endorsed by Obama, his Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt is backing off plans to scuttle the U.S. biofuel policy.  The Trump administration had planned to change regulatory standards to reduce the amount of renewable fuel that must be blended with conventional fossil fuel for gasoline and diesel supplies.  In the third week in October 2017, Pruitt sent a letter to Congressional leadership indicating the renewable fuel volume mandates for 2018 would remain unchanged. Most analysts saw the about face as a win for ethanol and renewable diesel producers such as Green Plains (GPRE:  Nasdaq), FutureFuel...

Renewable Fuels’ Dunkirk

by Jim Lane It’s been a very busy week in Washington DC, the high point being a letter to seven senators sent late Thursday by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who took significant (and as of a few days ago, unexpected) steps toward strengthening the foundation for ethanol and renewable fuels. The truth? It’s a Trump Administration back-down. EPA overreached on de-clawing the Renewable Fuel Standard on behalf on some grumpy oilpatch donors (known as GODs), and the Trump Administration managed to revive a Grand Alliance around renewable fuels — one that now includes almost 40 members of the United States Senate,...

Oh, No! Renewable Energy Group CEO Departs

Oh, No! Renewable Energy Group CEO Departs Intirim CEO plans no strategy change Jim Lane In Iowa, Renewable Energy Group (REGI) announced that Dan Oh has resigned as President and Chief Executive Officer and as a member of the Company’s Board of Directors. The resignation was effective July 3, 2017. The Board of Directors appointed long-time director Randolph (Randy) L. Howard as Interim President and Chief Executive Officer. Howard is a 33-year veteran of Unocal, has been on the REG board since 2007 so, a familiar face at 67, may not be in the...

Ethanol and Biodiesel: Production Cost and Profitability

For a number of years, this (now old and outdated, but) very useful chart has been in circulation in energy circles, mapping the supply of energy to the world by looking not at prices, but at production costs. For one thing, it goes a long way to explaining why the price of oil can tumble so quickly when there is a fall off in demand, and explains why OPEC is troubled by unconventional oil in a way it is not so bothered by other energy sources such as renewable fuels. Renewables not only have been traditionally at the...

Insider View on REGI

by Debra Fiakas CFA Insider buying is not one of my regular screening criteria in selecting long plays in the small cap sector.  However, to learn a chief executive officer has taken out his/her check book to buy shares in their company is influential.  In November 2016, the CEO of biofuel producer Renewable Energy Group (REGI:  Nasdaq) reported an increase in his stake in the company in recent months. With REGI shares just above the prices paid by the CEO just three months ago, it is timely to look more closely from the outside. In...

DAR the Rins Blow!

by Debra Fiakas CFA Last week the management of  Darling Ingredients (DAR:  NYSE) staged a webinar on its opportunities in biofuels.  Darling produces biodiesel in Kentucky and Canada and is in a renewable diesel joint venture with Valero Energy (VLO:  NYSE) in Louisiana.  As a recycler of wastes and excess from the food production processes, the production of energy with organic feedstock is a logical extension of Darling’s collection and aggregation infrastructure. The event did not do much for Darling’s share price, but the presentation triggered a few questions about RINs  -  shorthand for...

FutureFuel: Still Future, Less Fuel

by Debra Fiakas CFA The last post “From Fuel to Fudge” discussed how the old Solazyme developer of algal-based renewable fuel has been transformed into a new company called TerraVia, (TVIA) which is pursing algal-based food and personal care products.  Solazyme is not the only renewable fuel company to make an about face.  Granted FutureFuel Corporation (FF:  NYSE) has not changed its name or stock symbol like Solazyme.  However, its ability to produce specialty chemicals has given FutureFuel an alternative to biofuels and its early plans to build a plant that could eventually produce 160 million gallons of...

REG: A Little ADM With Better Growth Prospects

Jim Lane At 8:30am, there’s a standing daily meeting of the key traders in Gary Haer’s sales group at Renewable Eenergy Group's (NASD:REGI aka REG) headquarters in Ames, Iowa. And they’re not kidding. Everyone stands. For 15 minutes there’s the rat-a-tat-tat of rumor, fact, competitors, pricing, spreads, the who’s selling what and where, the buying and selling of diesel, renewable diesel and biodiesel across North America. On most minds this Friday morning, what’s going to happen with corn prices? The USDA late on Thursday released its annual spring plantings report and it was a shocker. Corn acres...

FutureFuel Profits Preview

by Debra Fiakas CFA Biodiesel and biochemical producer FutureFuel Corporation (FF:  NYSE) will report fourth quarter 2015 financial results after the market close today.  No conference call will be held due to low attendance on recent calls.  The single published estimate for FutureFuel is for $0.28 in earnings per share on $122.5 million in total sales.  Despite an increase in this estimate in the last week, the number still represents a significant decrease in earnings compared to the prior-year period.  The Company has missed the consensus estimate in both of the last two quarters and we do not...

Will Renewable Energy Group’s Buying Spree Ever Stop?

Jim Lane Jim Lane is editor and publisher  of Biofuels Digest where this article was originally published. Biofuels Digest is the most widely read  Biofuels daily read by 14,000+ organizations. Subscribe here.

Renewable Energy Group Teams Up With ExxonMobil For Cellulosic Biodiesel

Jim Lane Two giants hook up to bring cellulosic biodiesel to scale. A new source of biodiesel feedstock, and a new source of renewable fuels. In Iowa, ExxonMobil (XOM) and Renewable Energy Group (REGI) have agreed to jointly study the production of biodiesel by fermenting renewable cellulosic sugars from sources such as agricultural waste. REG has developed a patented technology that uses microbes to convert sugars to biodiesel in a one-step fermentation process similar to ethanol manufacturing. The ExxonMobil and REG Life Sciences research will focus on using sugars from non-food sources. Terms were not disclosed. Readers will...