EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt Resigns

by Jim Lane In Washington, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has resigned. US President Donald Trump announced the exit on Twitter, commenting, “President Donald Trump announced Pruitt’s exit, saying on Twitter “I have accepted the resignation of Scott Pruitt as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Within the Agency Scott has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this.” Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler becomes acting administrator. The Digest’s Take Elsewhere in the media, it is widely reported that Pruitt was undone by a growing number of controversies and investigations relating to his conduct as EPA Administrator, particularly relating...

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For a number of years, this (now old and outdated, but) very useful chart has been in circulation in energy circles, mapping the supply of energy to the world by looking not at prices, but at production costs.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...

Dyadic International (DYAI.PK), A Stock To Avoid

Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA Dyadic International hopes to use proprietary gene discovery to revolutionize cellulosic biofuel and pharmaceuticals.  Investors should stay away. Dyadic International (DYAI.PK) says they are applying their "proprietary enabling biotechnologies for multi-billion dollar markets in industrial enzymes, biofuels and biotherapeutics."  A very exciting prospect, and just the sort of thing I've long warned investors to avoid.  In short, they are a company with gigantic claims and not a lot of track record to back them up. Why I Care (I don't, really) In our survey of readers, one respondent asked that I write more about stocks...

Ethanol shortage could up gas prices

USA Today Money comments about a potential for future increases in gas prices and also shortages in Ethanol. "Gasoline prices will be unusually high and shortages might occur this summer, because the U.S. ethanol industry can't keep up with the demand for fuel-grade alcohol to mix with gasoline, the head of the U.S. Energy Information Administration told a Senate committee Wednesday." On Wednesday of this week the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee met to discuss ethanol as a substitute for MTBE, a clean-air additive in gasoline. This potential change will increase the cost of refining...

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...

Fulcrum Bioenergy’s $115M IPO: The 10-Minute Version

Jim Lane The first zero-cost feedstock biofuels company comes to the public markets with its IPO. Like to see how this “Back the the Futuresque” technology unlocks value by converting household garbage into transportation fuel? Here’s our 10-minute version of the IPO from Fulcrum Bioenergy. In California, Fulcrum Bioenergy has filed an S-1 registration statement for a proposed $115 million initial public offering. The number of shares to be offered and the price range for the offering have not yet been determined. The company proposes to list under the symbol FLCM. UBS Investment Bank...
biofuel dispenser

Trump Takes Down Ethanol in Pincer Move

by Debra Fiakas, CFA The Trump Administration is using tariffs on China goods as a trade war tactic to pressure China into relenting to U.S. trade policy demands.  Unfortunately, the fallout has been heavy and widespread.  Farmers have taken the heaviest hits as China has dropped orders for corn and soybeans.  Ethanol producers have been ensnared in the trade war skirmish as well and in recent weeks have been caught an uncomfortable ‘pincer-like’ squeeze by the Trump Administration. Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency has continued its practice of granting waivers to oil and gas refiners, eliminating the requirement to blend biofuel with the refiners’ petroleum...

Mascoma’s IPO: The 10-Minute version

Jim Lane No appetite for 200 pages of IPO-speak in Mascoma’s S-1 registration statement? Here’s our 10-minute version. In Massachusetts, Mascoma Corporation announced that it has filed an S-1 registration statement relating to a proposed $100 million initial public offering. The number of shares to be offered and the price range for the offering have not yet been determined, and the company has not indicated yet which exchange it will apply to for a listing of its shares. Here’s the S-1 registration, in a conveniently downsized 10-minute Digest version – with some commentary along the way...

Aemetis’ Cellulosic Ethanol From Orchard Waste Project

by Jim Lane There were more than 100 presentations at ABLC last week and not a clunker amongst them, but if I were to point the reader’s attention at one or two that stood out from the rest because of the short-term or long-term implications, I’d start with the news from Aemetis (AMTX) that they are embarking now on a $158 million cellulosic ethanol plant — to be built in Riverbank, California, in partnership with LanzaTech. Cellulosic ethanol is selling for such a high price in California right now — the value jumps north of $4.00 per gallon at times —...

Coskata’s $100 million IPO: The 10-Minute Version

Jim Lane The first gas fermentation technology to come to the public markets: Coskata files its $100 million IPO. Here’s our 10-minute version of the filing, with a translation of the risks into English. In Illinois, Coskata has filed an S-1 registration statement for a proposed $100 million initial public offering. The number of shares to be offered in the proposed offering and the price range for the offering have not yet been determined. The lead book-running managers for the offering are Citigroup, Barclays and Piper Jaffray. The company is currently ranked #17 in the world...

EPA Slashes Corn Ethanol Targets Under Proposed Renewable Fuel Standard

Renewable Diesel Takes Smaller Cut Jim Lane “EPA continues to assert authority under the general waiver provision to reduce biofuel volumes based on available infrastructure,” says BIO. “This is a point that will have to be litigated. It goes against Congressional intent.” In Washington, the EPA released its proposed standards for 2014, 2015, and 2016 and volumes for renewable fuels. The volumes, as widely expected, include substantial reductions from the statutory standards in the original 2007 Energy Independence & Security Act. The EPA also released a 2017 proposed standard for biomass-based diesel. Yet, while attracting significant...

Xethanol to Acquire Plant in Georgia

Xethanol Corporation (XTHN.OB) announced that its CoastalXethanol subsidiary has signed a letter of intent with Pfizer, Inc. to purchase Pfizer's pharmaceutical manufacturing complex located in Augusta, Georgia. While details are yet to be finalized, CoastalXethanol and Pfizer are working together to complete the transaction. The state of the art, 40 acre site includes: an 89,100 square foot manufacturing facility, a 25,000 square foot warehouse facility, 7,300 square feet of laboratory space, and 16,000 square feet of offices and conference rooms. CoastalXethanol intends to retrofit the site to produce 35 million gallons per year of ethanol. The facility will...

Where Are The Cellulosic Ethanol Gallons?

Jim Lane  We've seen a number of high-profile cellulosic projects open in recent years, and not much ethanol being produced? Wondered why? Here are answers to your questions. As Jack Webb used to say on Dragnet, just the facts, ma’am. Fact one. There’s not much ethanol being produced at the new generation of cellulosic projects. Fact two. We have seen significant changes in senior leadership at a number of key developers. Industry rumor going around: Psst! These facts are linked! For sure, Dorio Giordano has been appointed CEO at Beta Renewables, Dan Cummings has been...

The API Bushwhacks Ethanol

Jim Lane Who’s right, in the fight of their lives over E15 ethanol blending? Whose data’s a Looney Tune, whose is from the real-world? Yesterday the American Petroleum Institute, in an apparent impression of Yosemite Sam, held a press conference in DC to highlight a new report from the Coordinating Research Council on E15 ethanol blends. The report is here. The API: Blast your scuppers, now I gotcha, ya’ flea-ridden riff-raff! Use of the ethanol gasoline blend E15 may endanger fuel systems in millions of 2001 and newer vehicles,...

Ag Goddess Smiles Favorably on Ceres, Investors Frown

by Debra Fiakas CFA Recently, in compiling our lists of remarkable small-cap stock trades, I was surprised to find the shares of Ceres, Inc. (CERE:  Nasdaq) among stocks setting new 52-week lows.  Ceres has only been trading since its initial public offering in February 2012, when the company sold 5.0 million shares at $13.00 per share.  After a brief trade higher in the early spring, Ceres shares have been steadily losing ground, finally setting an all-time low of $6.02 last week. Named after the Greek Goddess of Agriculture, Ceres is a self-styled energy crop producer.  Ceres...

Corn Ethanol On The Chopping Block: Can Green Plains Escape?

by Debra Fiakas CFA Legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate has put corn-based ethanol fuel on the chopping block.  The bill’s title says it all – Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act of 2013.  Put into place in 2005, the Renewable Fuel Standard required refiners and blenders to use 16.6 billion gallons of renewable fuel in 2013, of which approximately 13 billion gallons will be met through ethanol made from corn.  Support for the legislation is coming from all quarters.  It is not surprising that poultry, dairy and beef people would think this is a good idea,...
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