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EIA: US biodiesel imports have doubled since 2022 due to low prices in Europe

Published by , Editorial Assistant
Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Annual US biodiesel imports doubled from 2022 to 2023 to 33 000 bpd and continued to rise in the first two months of 2024, according to the most recent data available. Much of the increase in biodiesel imports has come from Germany, and the remaining increase has come mostly from elsewhere in Europe, where a biodiesel surplus has lowered prices.

US imports of biodiesel, a transportation and heating fuel typically blended with petroleum diesel or heating oil, averaged 12 000 bpd between September 2017 and October 2022.

The US Renewable Fuel Standard programme underpins biodiesel demand in the US. In the early years of the programme, which was enacted in 2005, required blending volumes for renewable fuels such as biodiesel were very low, and imports were minimal. As the programme has matured, biofuel blending requirements have gradually increased, leading to increasing biodiesel consumption, imports, and production.

Annual US biodiesel imports increased between 2013 and 2017 to 27 000 bpd because of subsidised biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia. In response to these subsidies and increased imports, the US Department of Commerce and International Trade Commission initiated trade investigations in April 2017 that resulted in antidumping duty and countervailing duty orders that put duties on biodiesel imports from these countries to offset the effects of the subsidies. Because imports from Argentina and Indonesia made up almost three-quarters of total US biodiesel imports between 2013 and 2017, US biodiesel imports decreased significantly after the investigation and orders.

The recent increase in US biodiesel imports began in November 2022, when imports of biodiesel reached 30 000 bpd. US biodiesel imports continued to grow in 2023 to 33 000 bpd and have increased further in 2024. In February 2024, the US imported 54 000 bpd of biodiesel, the most for any month since June 2017.

US biodiesel imports have increased mostly because of low biodiesel prices in Europe, which have made importing biodiesel from Europe economically attractive. Biodiesel prices in Europe have been low because of policies related to the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive, which drives renewable energy targets. Much of the increase in US biodiesel imports has come from Germany. From 2022 to 2023, US biodiesel imports from Germany more than doubled to 11 000 bpd, making it the top source of US biodiesel imports. Most of the remaining increase in US biodiesel imports was from Spain, Italy, and Belgium, with small increases also coming from South Korea and Brazil.

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Europe downstream news North America downstream news