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By Robert Rapier on Nov 30, 2006 with no responses

Ethanol Demand Boosting Corn Prices

A new story today from Yahoo News: Ethanol demand boosting corn prices Some excerpts: INDIANAPOLIS – The ethanol industry’s growing appetite for corn has pushed prices for the grain to their highest levels in a decade amid a surge that agricultural experts say could lead farmers next spring to plant their largest corn crop in 60 years. Farmers who plant more corn in 2007, however, will be betting that the nation’s burgeoning ethanol industry won’t go bust and oil prices stay high, keeping up demand for the corn used to make ethanol, said Chris Hurt, a Purdue University agricultural economist. With a growing amount of corn being diverted from food products and livestock feed toward ethanol production, per-bushel prices have… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Nov 27, 2006 with no responses

Epic Essay on Sustainability

I would like to direct your attention to the epic post written by The Ergosphere’s Engineer-Poet: Sustainability, energy independence and agricultural policy It is a monster (the last draft I saw before publication was over 8,000 words) and it is really thorough. It should be cross-posted to The Oil Drum in a couple of days. Here is a brief introduction of what the essay covers: What would you say if I told you that we could use biomass to: Replace all the petroleum used by the ground-transport sector (55% or more)? Replace all the natural gas used by the electric-generation sector (about 1/3 of US natural gas consumption)? Replace every pound of coal burned for electricity (about 90% of all… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Nov 23, 2006 with no responses

Ethanol, Biodiesel, and Food Prices

The following story from Bloomberg caught my eye today: Ethanol Drives Up Food Commodity Prices Some notable excerpts: Nov. 22 (Bloomberg) — Global ethanol production is driving up prices for food commodities, from feed stocks such as sugar, to meat, said Datagro, Brazil’s biggest sugar-industry forecasting firm. U.S. production, forecast to increase more than 70 percent by 2012, will use 37 percent of the country’s current corn supply to meet output needs, up 15 percent from 2006, Datagro said. Land for soy oilseeds is increasingly being diverted to grow corn, reducing soy supply and driving up animal feed prices, according to the company. In China, competing demand for corn from the food and ethanol industries may lead the country to… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Nov 22, 2006 with no responses

This Week in Petroleum 11-22-06

The weekly EIA report was released this morning: Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending November 17, 2006 Some excerpts: U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 15.0 million barrels per day during the week ending November 17, up 60,000 barrels per day from the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 87.1 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production inched slightly higher last week compared to the previous week, averaging 8.7 million barrels per day, while distillate fuel production increased as well, averaging nearly 4.1 million barrels per day. U.S. crude oil imports averaged 10.5 million barrels per day last week, up over 1.0 million barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks,… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Nov 20, 2006 with no responses

Gas Prices, Gouging, and Food versus Fuel

A few newsworthy items to cover: Gas prices, gas gouging legislation, and food versus fuel. Gas Prices on the Rise Surprise! It seems that gas prices are rising: Gas prices on the rise again, analyst reports Gas prices are on the rise again, just as Americans hit the highways for Thanksgiving. Gas prices rose about 5 cents per gallon nationwide compared to two weeks ago, industry analyst Trilby Lundberg said Sunday. Of course if you read this blog, you knew this was coming. I have made this case in two recent essays, and I have been saying this at The Oil Drum for about a month: A Case Study in Cluelessness This Week in Petroleum 11-15-06 Gasoline inventories are being… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Nov 19, 2006 with no responses

Cellulosic Ethanol Reality Check

I firmly believe we should be aggressively researching the potential of cellulosic ethanol. This was after all the topic of my graduate school work at Texas A&M. But I think the hype has gotten way out of touch with reality at this point in time. There is a reason that nobody today is making money with cellulosic ethanol. It is quite possible that they never will, and in this essay I will discuss the reasons for that. I did an interview with a major publication last week on the topic of cellulosic ethanol. I won’t divulge any details, because I don’t want to leak out anything before it is published. But during the course of the interview, I made the… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Nov 18, 2006 with no responses

Student Sustainability Competition

Now for a public service announcement. Yesterday I received a mass-mailer from the EPA asking for help publicizing a sustainability competition. Since this is a topic that’s very important to me, I thought I would publish it here. The competition is open to graduate and undergraduate students, and the deadline to apply is December 21st (which also happens to be my birthday). ——————————– The P3 Award: People, Prosperity and the Planet A Student Design Competition for Sustainability – Apply by December 21, 2006. Got an innovative solution that protects the environment while growing the economy? The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is sponsoring an exciting environmental design contest for undergraduate and graduate students – The P3 Award. Through this national… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Nov 16, 2006 with no responses

Who Supplies the Most Biofuel?

I learned something interesting today. If you had asked me who is the world’s largest distributor of bio-fuels, I would have probably guessed ADM. It looks like I might have been wrong. Here is a press release that came across my desk today: Shell and Codexis to Explore Next-Generation Bio-Fuels HOUSTON and REDWOOD CITY, Calif., Nov. 16 /PRNewswire/ — Shell Oil Products US, a subsidiary of Shell Oil Company, and Codexis Inc., a privately held biotechnology company, announced today they would launch a collaboration to explore enhanced methods of converting biomass to bio-fuels. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. “Shell is committed to leading the development of second-generation bio- fuels that offer lower well-to-wheel CO2 production and enhanced performance,”… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Nov 15, 2006 with no responses

This Week in Petroleum 11-15-06

The weekly inventory report from the Energy Information Administration came out today, and it provided support for my latest essay. You can read the report at: This Week in Petroleum. A quick look at the gasoline inventory graph can tell you that upward pressure on gas prices is imminent: In my previous essay, I argued that falling inventories had to cause prices to increase. Some excerpts from this week’s report: …inventories dropping much faster than normal for this time of year. Moreover, with demand higher than in recent years, stocks considered in terms of the days of supply (or demand) that inventories can cover are lower than they appear on an absolute basis. This interpretation would lead one to think… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Nov 13, 2006 with no responses

A Case Study in Cluelessness

I saw a familiar name today in a news article, which I will get to in a bit. I was reading an article from the Sacramento Bee that said that gas prices may have bottomed out. (I won’t link to the article, since it requires registration). I have been saying that gas prices couldn’t fall much further based on weekly EIA inventory numbers, and were poised to rise. Gas pricing is pretty simple, really. You basically have to watch gasoline inventories, which are reported every week at: This Week in Petroleum If you want a very reliable indicator of which direction gas prices are headed, watch the gasoline inventories graph. When inventories are plunging, as they were in the first… Continue»