EIA proposes to expand biofuel data collection activities

By Erin Voegele | July 21, 2015

In July, the U.S. Department of Energy published a notice in the Federal Register inviting public comments on proposed revisions to certain information collection forms, including several focused on biofuel. Comments are due Sept. 8.

The notice explains the U.S. Energy Information Administration intends to request a three-year information collection extension with certain changes from the Office of Management and Budget with regard to several forms related to both biofuels and fossil-based fuels.

Regarding biofuels, the EIA said it is proposing to collect data on biofuel products for several categories and subcategories, including ethanol, both cellulosic and noncellulosic; butanol; biodiesel; biojet and biokerosene, both cellulosic and noncellulsoic; and other forms of biofuels, both cellulosic and noncellulosic. The EIA said this change assures continued relevance of the data and improves market coverage by accommodating potential for introduction of new biofuels.

The EIA is also proposing to reduce the number of motor gasoline categories from nine to five. The administration would collect data on motor gasoline blended with less than 51 percent ethanol, motor vehicle gasoline blended with more than 51 percent ethanol, motor gasoline not blended with ethanol, motor gasoline blending components, and reformulated blendstock for oxygenate blending. The current gasoline categories are based upon reformulated and conventional gasoline, while the new categories proposed by EIA would be based on gasoline with ethanol and gasoline without ethanol.

The notice proposes that the EIA discontinue collecting storage capacity on certain forms. According to the administration, collecting storage capacity of product pipelines and ethanol plants did not provide useful information for assessing available petroleum supplies, as inventories at these locations are primarily used for operational purposes rather than commercial purposes.

The EIA is also proposing to collect data in actual barrels rather than thousands of barrels. “For some of our data collection we are missing small volumes from respondents because they are reporting in thousands of barrels,” said the EIA in the notice. “These missing volumes may not add up to a large volume, but data for some small-volume products, such as certain biofuels and fuels blended with biofuels, are important for assessment of policy decisions. For example, if a respondent produces less than 500 barrels of E85, they would report that production as zero (0) when using current thousand barrels reporting units.” Under the EIA’s new proposal, that respondent would report the actual volume they produced.

In addition, the scope and title of EIA-22M “Monthly Biodiesel Production Report” would be changed to EIA-22M “Biodiesel, Biojet, Biokerosene and Renewable Diesel Report.” Parts D3 “Sales of B100 and blended biodiesel” and 3E “End use sales of biodiesel” would be eliminated from the current version of the form. In addition, the EIA has proposed to expand part 3A of Form EIA-22M to account for production and blending of noncellulosic biofuels, including biojet, biokerosene, renewable diesel, and others, along with cellulosic biofuels, including cellulosic distillate fuel, cellulosic biojet and biokerosene, and others. According to the notice, information on the production and blending of these fuels are relevant to understand activities of the renewable and biofuel industries.

The notice also includes a provision to change the title of Form EIA-819 “Monthly Oxygenate Report” to EIA-819 “Monthly Biofuel and Oxygenate Report.” The new form would have separate sections for reporting biofuel production, non-biofuel oxygenate production, and blending activity involving biofuels, petroleum products, and hydrocarbon gas liquids. In addition, product details would be added to identify products and noncellulosic biofuels and cellulosic biofuels. The notice indicates the EIA currently collects petroleum refinery fuel consumption data, but not renewable fuel plant consumption data. The EIA said collecting this data will allow analysts and modelers to gauge trends in energy efficiency at ethanol and biodiesel plants as they do now with data collected from petroleum refineries.

Certain changes are also proposed for Form-809 “Weekly Oxygenate Report.” According to the notice, the EIA is proposing to collect data on ethanol, and discontinue collecting data on denatured and undenatured ethanol separately on the form.

A full copy of the notice outlining the proposed reporting changes, along with directions on how to submit comments, can be downloaded from the Federal Register website.