EIA says corn ethanol margins averaged 22 cents per gallon in 2017

March 7, 2018 |

In Washington, the Energy Information Administration says estimated ethanol production margins at U.S. corn ethanol plants averaged 22 cents per gallon (gal) in 2017. Last year was the fifth consecutive year that margins have averaged more than 20 cents/gal, which has helped drive consistent ethanol production growth over that period. U.S. ethanol production averaged an estimated 1,032 thousand barrels per day (b/d) in 2017, marking a fifth consecutive record level of annual production.

Increases in ethanol supply have outpaced increases in domestic demand in 2017, which have contributed to relatively low spot prices and margins that are about 20 cents/gal lower than the previous four-year average but still largely in line with levels in the previous two years.

Ethanol producer margins are estimated by EIA for a dry mill corn ethanol plant of average capacity located in the Midwest, a region that is home to more than 90% of domestic fuel ethanol production capacity. EIA estimates these margins by taking the sum of revenue generated from the sale of ethanol and co-products, such as distillers’ dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and corn oil, and subtracting variable and fixed costs. Variable costs include expenses such as the cost of corn and natural gas, along with a fixed operating cost of 35 cents/gal.

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