USGC sets sights on Kenya for potential ethanol market

By Lisa Gibson | October 09, 2017

The U.S. Grains Council is working to develop ethanol markets in east Africa, which are accessible through the Persian Gulf. Brian Healy, USGC’s vice president of ethanol market development, traveled to Kenya recently to speak at a regional ethanol conference, and used the opportunity to meet with senior level officials in agriculture, energy and environmental ministries, as well as industry leadership, he said.  

Kenya does not have a refinery, but imports finished gasoline from the Persian Gulf, according to Healy. “The U.S. exports ethanol to countries in the Persian Gulf, including the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Saudi Arabia, where, depending on the end use, ethanol is blended and reexported to countries in east Africa.”

While some preliminary blending infrastructure exists in Kenya, it has gone unused because of restraints in domestic sugar production, Healy said. “As an importer of finished gasoline, Kenya holds the opportunity to examine its fuel demands to use ethanol at greater levels, further up the value chain,” he said.

When USGC explores potential ethanol markets, it works to build alliances and create open dialogues for engagement, Healy said. The organization focuses on information exchange related to each country’s individual ethanol industry, provides technical information and discusses the benefits of greater use. “Continued engagement with Kenya and other potential new markets includes reverse trade missions to the U.S. to show the entire value chain of the U.S. industry and continuous follow-up and engagement through regional overseas offices,” Healy said.

Kenya has had a blend mandate in place since 2010, but it has not been met. “Kenya is actively pursuing opportunities to reduce energy prices to consumers and to meet their Paris Agreement commitments,” Healy said. “Ethanol provides these and other benefits at the consumer, industry and ministry levels.”