IRFA, E15 retailers fight for blendstock needed for E15 in summer
Holly Jessen | June 05, 2013
Linn Co-op Oil Co. and Iowa’s other E15 retailers were recently forced to stop selling E15 because oil refiners won’t supply the gasoline blendstock required for the summer months. “Consumers who want a higher grade ethanol blend, in this case E15, are being denied that choice,” said U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa. Braley was part of a June 3 conference call hosted by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association that was held to discuss the petroleum distribution monopoly, one of the tools Big Oil is using to block the sale of higher ethanol blends, said Monte Shaw, executive director of IRFA.
In the summer months the U.S. EPA allows E10 to exceed the 9.0 pounds per-square-inch Reid Vapor Pressure requirement by 1 pound from June 1 to Sept. 15 but did not give E15 the same waiver. In order to offer E15 to vehicles model year 2001 and newer, the renewable fuel must be blended with low-volatility gasoline, which is used in markets that require reformulated gasoline. The catch is, although that fuel travels through Iowa via pipeline, E15 retailers are being denied access and therefore must only sell E15 to flex-fuel vehicle drivers or shut down their E15 pumps, as Linn Co-op did. “One of the key things about this is, we’re not asking for something that doesn’t exist,” Shaw said. “The gasoline blendstock we need to make E15 in the summer is available, it flows through the very pipeline system that services Iowa, but they will not let us take it out of the pipeline here.”
Earlier this year, a group of Iowa’s E15 retailers sent a letter, asking oil refiners supplying Iowa to provide the summer gas blendstock required for E15, IRFA said. However, as of June 1, no oil refiner has done so. In the meantime, the necessary blendstock travels through Iowa, on its way to Kansas City and Chicago, where reformulated gas is required due to