AIS Data Tracks Unusual Biodiesel Shipment to U.S.

Genscape tracking for the Stolt Sun

Published Jun 7, 2016 12:22 AM by Will Martin and Susan Olson

[By Will Martin, Analyst, Biofuels & Susan Olson, Managing Director, Agriculture & Biofuels]

On April 27, 2016, Genscape Vesseltracker detected a shipment of 4,200 tons (about 1.3 million gallons) of biodiesel from Australia arriving at the Texas Terminals Wharf in the Houston area. The Stolt Sun vessel carried product that originated from the ports of Adelaide and Fremantle in Australia.

According to data from the EIA, the U.S. hasn’t seen imports of biodiesel from Australia since January 2013, and the shipments from Australia have only occasionally occurred in the EIA’s recorded history (February 2012 and May 2011). 

According to the 2015 USDA FAS GAIN report, Australia only produced about 17 million gallons of biodiesel in 2014. When the report was issued in August 2015, the expectation was that there would be 26 million gallons produced in 2015. The USDA also reported that only four of the eight biodiesel plants in Australia were operating at that time.

U.S. imports would suggest little Australian demand for biodiesel and favorable economics stateside with the current regulatory incentives, even with the nearly two-month journey.

The Blender’s Tax Credit, increased Renewable Fuel Standard volumes, and the value of Low Carbon Fuel Standard credits are driving increased U.S. consumption of biodiesel in 2016. A big question for the industry is how much of that will come from non-U.S. versus U.S. sources. Seeing another source of imports that wasn’t in the market in 2014 and 2015 could be an indication of the strength of imports in fulfilling increased demand.

Genscape offers an AIS-based Global Biodiesel Monitor to provide stakeholders with access to key international shipment information, delivering a more complete picture of biodiesel and renewable diesel flows worldwide. 

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.