Here's One Transportation Fuel Ending 2015 on a Positive Note

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  • Regional U.S. biodiesel prices have jumped 11% this month
  • Government reinstated $1-per-gallon incentive to blenders

Not every transportation fuel is ending 2015 on a sour note.

Spot biodiesel prices have jumped at least 10 percent because of moves in Washington since Nov. 30, when the Obama administration increased consumption targets for the fuel. About three weeks later, Congress reinstated a $1-a-gallon tax credit for blending it.

Revving Biodiesel
Revving Biodiesel

Biodiesel’s gains are in stark contrast to the price declines for crude oil, gasoline, heating oil and even the renewable fuel’s cousin, ethanol. It’s a relief for an industry that saw many producers operate below capacity because it didn’t have the tax credit and customers didn’t know how much the government would require them to consume.

“It’s doing well,” Jerrod Kitt, an analyst at Linn Group in Chicago, said by phone Wednesday. “Keep in mind, heating oil has gone in the opposite direction.”

Biodiesel in the Midwest has increased 11 percent this month to $2.80 a gallon, the highest since July 23. During that same period, regular diesel in Chicago plummeted 13 percent to $1.0292 a gallon. Last week, diesel touched 95.54 cents, the cheapest in records going back to 2006, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Futures for crude oil have dropped 12 percent in December, gasoline 8.7 percent and heating oil 18 percent on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Ethanol is down 7.3 percent on the Chicago Board of Trade.

Biodiesel’s advance has been tempered by the holidays and is likely to accelerate as traders return from vacation, said Eric De Bruin, a broker at StarFuels Inc. in Milwaukee.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Nov. 30 Renewable Fuels Standard announcement said refiners such as Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and Valero Energy Corp. should have used 1.73 billion gallons of biodiesel this year and must consume 1.9 billion in 2016.

“Prices are going up,” De Bruin said by phone Wednesday. “It’s not the big jump over one day, but it’s very slowly going higher.”

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