Argentina is on track to export a record of around 1.7mn tons of biodiesel this year, with further upside seen on the horizon next year despite Peru´s recent imposition of anti-dumping duties.
Argentina exported 242,797t in October, a 135pc increase from the same month last year. October marked the second-highest month on record for sales abroad after October 2014, when 267,244t were exported.
In September, Argentina exported 167,242t, a 76pc year-on-year increase that followed a 115pc jump to 179,878t in August.
In the first 10 months of the year, Argentina exported 1.4mn t of biodiesel, more than double the 600,255t sold abroad in the January-October period last year.
Throughout the year, around 90pc of the country’s biodiesel exports went to the US, while the balance was sold to Peru, according to Guillermo Rossi, an analyst with Rosario-based consultancy Big River.
November looks to prolong the trend, with an estimated 220,000t of exports, according to preliminary shipping records cited by Rossi. That would be almost double the 126,646t exported in November of last year.
Argentina’s total biodiesel exports this year are expected to reach around 1.7mn t, according to preliminary industry estimates, which would mark a 116pc increase from the 788,226 t sold abroad last year.
“There are some analysts talking about exports potentially reaching 2.3-2.5mn t next year,” says Rossi.
How much overseas biodiesel sales increase in 2017 will depend largely on whether the European Union reopens its doors to the Argentinian biofuel after both the World Trade Organization and the General Court of the European Union ruled against the bloc’s biodiesel anti-dumping duties.
The duties of 22pc-25.7pc imposed in November 2013 effectively closed off the sales to Europe, once the biggest and most reliable market for Argentina’s soybean-based product.
“We´re hoping that negotiations end soon and that 2017 will be the year when we will finally be able to return to Europe,” says Luis Zubizarreta, president of Argentinian biodiesel chamber Carbio.
Closer to home, the industry is launching a new legal fight against Peru´s duties that were slapped on Argentinian biodiesel in October.
The measure effectively blocks the Peruvian market that had been buying around 250,000t/yr of the Argentinian product.
Although the Peruvian trade action reflects “an increasingly closed off world,” as Zubizarreta described it, the sector so far does not see an immediate risk that its top market will evaporate after trade skeptic Donald Trump takes over the presidency in January.
“Although there is uncertainty at a global level, 2017 will be a good year for sales (of biodiesel) to the United States, and we do not see any reason to be concerned, at least in the short term,” says Gustavo Idigoras, an Argentinian biofuels analyst.
Part of this optimism stems from a decision earlier this month by the US Environmental Protection Agency that ordered an increase in the amount of biofuel that US refiners must blend into their fuel.
Argentina has more than enough idle production capacity to meet an increase in demand from the US as well as a reopening of the European market.
The country’s plants can produce around 4.2mn t/yr and total production this year is expected to total around 2.7mn t, according to Zubizarreta.
Argentina’s biodiesel is also sold domestically to fulfill a 10pc blending mandate.