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US EPA eyes extending refinery biofuel deadlines, no action on waivers

January 18/2021

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The US Environmental Protection Agency said it would propose to extend deadlines for refiners to prove compliance with biofuel laws, but signaled it would not decide on a slew of pending waiver requests submitted by the industry, reported Reuters.

The agencys proposal represented mixed news for refiners hard hit by slumping energy demand during the coronavirus pandemic and eager to sidestep regulatory costs associated with US biofuel blending policy. It also marks one of the last actions from President Donald Trumps EPA before he leaves office on Jan. 20.

The agency said it is proposing to extend the compliance deadline for 2019 biofuel blending obligations to Nov. 30, 2021, and an associated deadline for submission of attest engagement reports to June 1, 2022. The EPA is also proposing to extend the 2020 deadlines to Jan. 31, 2022, and June 1, 2022.

Refiners must hand in credits to the EPA each year to prove they complied with their annual biofuel blending obligations for the previous year.

The agency also said it was not taking a position on the availability of 2019 small refinery waivers, which can exempt oil refiners from biofuel blending obligations. The agency said the decision was related to pending litigation regarding the waiver program.

EPA could not be reached by Reuters to clarify whether that meant the agency was not issuing any additional waivers before Trump leaves office.

The proposal was outlined in a document seen by Reuters that is scheduled to be posted on the Federal Register on Friday.

Under the US Renewable Fuel Standard, refiners must blend billions of gallons of biofuels like corn-based ethanol into their fuel mix, or buy credits from those that do. Refiners can apply for exemptions if they can prove the obligations would cause them financial harm.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, EPA had not enforced compliance for some refineries for the 2019 compliance year.

While we dont agree that EPA needs to wait as long as it is proposing, particularly for the 2020 compliance year, we do agree with EPA that the outgoing administration should refrain from any further action on the pending small refinery petitions, said Geoff Cooper, president of the Renewable Fuels Association.

US senators including Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley of Iowa urged EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler in a letter dated Thursday not to grant small refinery exemptions until ongoing litigation is resolved.

Renewable fuel (D6) credits for 2020 traded at 90 cents each on Thursday, up from 79 cents in the previous session, traders said.

As MRC informed earlier, last year, US lawmakers introduced a relief bill that would include aid to biofuel producers after demand for the fuel plummeted because of the coronavirus pandemic, causing mass shutdowns in the industry. The bill, introduced by House Democrats, would reimburse producers that suffered unexpected market losses because of the pandemic from January 1 through May 1. It is not clear whether the bill as proposed will be passed into law.

We remind that within the framework of its net zero strategy, Total will convert its Grandpuits refinery (Seine-et-Marne) into a zero-crude platform and will invest more then EUR500 mln into this project. By 2024 the platform will focus on four new industrial activities: production of renewable diesel primarily intended for the aviation industry, production of bioplastics, plastics recycling and operation of two photovoltaic solar power plants.

We also remind that in November 2019, Total disclosed that itis evaluating construction of a new gas cracker at its Deasan, South Korea, joint venture (JV) with Hanwha Chemical.

Ethylene and propylene are feedstocks for producing polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP).

According to MRC's DataScope report, PE imports to Russia decreased in January-November 2020 by 17% year on year and reached 569,900 tonnes. High density polyethylene (HDPE) accounted for the greatest reduction in imports. At the same time, PP imports into Russia increased by 21% year on year to about 202,000 tonnes in the first eleven months of 2020. Propylene homopolymer (homopolymer PP) accounted for the main increase in imports.
Author:Margaret Volkova
Tags:PP, PE, crude and gaz condensate, homopolymer PP, propylene, HDPE, ethylene, petrochemistry, recikling, Total Petrochemicals, Russia, USA, France, South Korea.
Category:General News
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