EIA: Ethanol production hits new low, weekly ending stocks fall

By Erin Voegele | April 29, 2020

U.S. ethanol production volumes were down slightly the week ending April 24. Weekly ethanol ending stocks, however, fell by nearly 5 percent after setting record highs for four consecutive weeks, according to data released April 29 by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Ethanol production averaged 547,000 barrels per day the week ending April 24, down 4.6 percent when compared to the previous week. While production again fell below the lowest level recorded since the agency began reporting weekly ethanol production in mid-2010, the freefall in production levels seems to have flattened over the past two weeks following several weeks where declines were much more significant.

Ethanol production has been falling sharply in recent weeks due to decreased liquid fuel demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. When compared to the same week of 2019, ethanol production was down approximately 487,000 barrels per day. When compared to the production during the final week of February 2020, production was down approximately 542,000 barrels per day—a nearly 50 percent drop in approximately two months.

Weekly ethanol ending stocks fell to 26,337 million barrels the week ending April 24, down from a record-setting volume of 27.689 million barrels reported the previous week. Stocks were up 3.64 million barrels when compared to the same week of 2019, and up 1.37 million barrels when compared to the last week of February.  

EIA data on the volume of finished gasoline produced the week ending April 24 seems to indicate fuel consumption is starting to rebound. According to the EIA, net production of finished motor gasoline reached 6.735 million barrels per day the week ending April 24, up from 6.205 million barrels per day the week of April 17. Gasoline production has been slowly rebounding for several weeks following a low of 5.818 million barrels per day that was reached the week ending April 3. Production, however, is still far below levels seen prior to the COVID-19 crisis, which averaged to close to 10 million barrels per day in late 2019 and early 2020.