Home / Commodities / Freight News / Philippines ethanol imports projected at multiyear high: USDA

Philippines ethanol imports projected at multiyear high: USDA

The Philippines is set to witness a significant surge in fuel ethanol imports to meet skyrocketing domestic demand, the latest annual biofuels report by the US Department of Agriculture showed May 15, with overall import volume anticipated to reach almost a decade high of 475 million liters in 2024.

Fuel ethanol inflows are expected to hit 208 million liters, a 14% increase on the year.

According to the report, biofuels consumption driven by economic growth led the increase in imports. The fuel forecasts indicated an 8% rise in fuel ethanol demand, reaching 682 million liters, while biodiesel consumption is expected to marginally increase 0.8% to 240 million liters.

Supply and demand projections
While challenges persist in domestic feedstock availability in the Philippines, an increase in imported ethanol is expected to mitigate the shortfall.
The anticipated growth is primarily fueled by expansions in the fuel pool, with the potential for even greater strides if higher blending standards are universally adopted.

USDA projections indicated a rise in ethanol production to 395 million liters.

However, the implementation of the discretionary E20 blend (20% ethanol for gasoline) and mandated B3 blend (3% biodiesel) hinges on the Department of Energy’s decision to issue a Department Circular containing necessary guidelines for the rollouts.

According to the report, the production capacity of 677.9 million liters/year is a result of the industry’s overexpansion in anticipation of the B5 blend, and is now more than enough to cover the required blending for 12 billion liters of diesel consumption.

In the Philippines, ethanol produced domestically primarily relies on sugarcane, predominantly molasses, as its feedstock, whereas biodiesel is sourced from coconut, where coconut oil is transformed into coco methyl ester.

The policy implementation currently emphasizes production and consumption without any specific policies in place to incentivize the reduction of carbon intensity in existing biofuels over time.

In 2024, local producers are estimated to cover approximately 58% of the bioethanol needed for gasoline blending. Domestic fuel oil companies are permitted to import ethanol only in cases of shortages, a scenario likely to persist given the ongoing challenge of inadequate feedstock supply.

According to the USDA report, however, in the current policy, imported ethanol does not directly compete with locally produced ethanol as local reserves must be depleted before imports are permitted.

Historically, the US has been the primary supplier of imported ethanol to the Philippines, but there has been heightened competition in recent years, notably from Brazil. The biodiesel trade remains minimal, with no importation permitted under the Biofuels Act.

In 2023, fuel ethanol used in the country resulted in a reduction of more than 843,000 mt of carbon dioxide emissions, while biodiesel emission reduction was pegged at 576,000 mt.

Policy push
According to the report, the Philippines Biodiesel Association advocated for a gradual increase from B2 to B3 to B5. The National Biofuel Board endorsed to increase the blend mandate gradually, starting with B3 implementation, with a target date of October 2024.

The DOE’s Renewable Energy Management Bureau is currently drafting a roadmap for sustainable aviation fuel.

Initially, SAF derived from coconut oil was earmarked for adoption as aviation fuel. However, a downturn in fuel prices led to a redirection of the project toward bio-oil production from agricultural waste.

S&P Global Commodity Insights analysts forecast global SAF consumption to reach 349,000 b/d by 2030, with a further increase to 2.1 million b/d by 2050, displacing almost 24% of worldwide jet fuel demand, according to its latest SAF market outlook.

Platts, part of Commodity Insights, last assessed SAF production costs in Southeast Asia $7.05 higher on the day at $1,564.24/mt May 15.
Source: Platts

Recent Videos

Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide Online Daily Newspaper on Hellenic and International Shipping