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Colombia increases ethanol blend mandate to 10%

The Colombian government has increased its national blend mandate for ethanol from 8 percent to 10 percent as of March 1, 2018, according to an announcement by the country’s Ministry of Mines and Energy (MinMinas), the government authority that regulates biofuels policy.

The Colombian Ministry of Mines and Energy (MinMinas) has announced that as of March 1, 2018, there will be modifications to the fuel reference prices as well as an increase of the ethanol blend mandate to 10 percent (photo courtesy MinMinas).

Sugar prices dropped considerably in early 2018, encouraging the production of ethanol. While the resulting high volumes of local ethanol inventories support the increased ethanol blend mandate, the new blending standard will ultimately benefit Colombian consumers as well, commented said Marri Tejada, US Grains Council (USGC) regional director for the Western Hemisphere.

Colombia has a growing domestic ethanol industry, producing sugar-based ethanol. Additionally, US ethanol enters Colombia duty-free per the terms of the US–Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement, but according to USGC the government’s current low-carbon fuel standard discriminates against corn-based ethanol. Still, some US refineries can meet the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions required in the standard.

The Council is working with Colombian ministries to ensure the country’s biofuels policies allow for a competitive market while also complying with the government’s GHG reduction goals. This work will continue to be important as the fuel standards become increasingly more restrictive moving forward, Tejada said.

Despite these challenges, Colombia set a new record for US ethanol imports in 2016/2017, purchasing more than 13 million (US) gallons (≈ 49.2 million litres). Imports in the current marketing year (September 2017 – January 2018) have more than doubled year-over-year to 9.62 million gallons (≈ 36.4 million litres).

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