Green Plains CEO discusses the future of ethanol in Nebraska - KHAS TV
March 10, 2014
By Lauren Conley
The CEO of one of Nebraska's largest ethanol producers says public opinion in the state is dragging the industry down.
Todd Becker with Green Plains Renewable Energy spoke at the Governor's Ag conference in Kearney Thursday.
Becker says there's a huge demand for ethanol overseas, and he'd like to see more done to create and keep energy here at home.
"It's almost disgraceful I tell people. We have boats of ethanol leaving the United States as boats of Saudi Arabian oil are entering the United States." Said Todd Becker, CEO of Green Plains.
Nebraska is the second largest ethanol producer in the country.
Bumper profits threaten US ethanol support - Financial Times
February 19, 2014
Article by Gregory Meyer - Feb. 16, 2014
The US ethanol industry is enjoying bumper profits again, placing it in an awkward position as it battles plans by the Obama administration to scale back government support.
Plentiful corn, the main US ethanol feedstock, and foreign demand from sugarcane ethanol-rich Brazil have allowed refiners such as Archer Daniels Midland, Green Plains Renewable Energy and Valero to sharply increase output and biofuel incomes. The US is the world's biggest ethanol producer.
Their robust financial health contrasts with the bleak tone industry groups have adopted in response to the US Environmental Protection Agency's proposal to reduce ethanol blending requirements for the first time.
Growth Energy, an ethanol lobby group, warned last month that the EPA's proposal will have a "significant adverse impact" on the industry, forcing plants to close, thousands to be sacked and billions of dollars in revenues to disappear.
Green Plains, which annually sells more than 1bn gallons of ethanol, trebled net income in the fourth quarter of last year and expects the first half of 2014 to be its strongest on record.
"Ethanol margins have expanded and demand is better than we've ever seen it," Todd Becker, chief executive, told the Financial Times. While the government mandate is in the best interest of industry, "as a company, our perspective is we can compete in any environment", he added.
The biofuels division at Archer Daniels Midland, which makes more than 1.7bn gallons of ethanol per year at six plants, swung to a $134m operating profit in the fourth quarter, from a $94m loss a year earlier. "We are expecting strong margins going into 2014," chief operating officer Juan Luciano told analysts this month.
Valero, also the biggest oil refining company, reported a $269m operating profit at its ethanol division in the quarter, its highest ever.
The strong performance comes despite a stagnant domestic market. The Energy Department forecasts drivers will consume about 135bn gallons of petrol this year, which leaves room for about 13.5bn gallons of ethanol blended at the usual 10 per cent rate. EPA has proposed slashing the corn ethanol mandate for the first time to 13.01bn gallons this year, down from the 14.4bn legal requirement.
Net ethanol exports have filled the gap, rising 24 per cent in 2013 and flowing to countries including Canada, the Philippines, Brazil and the United Arab Emirates.
"It is a broad spectrum of countries, and the list is getting bigger. The US is very competitive," said Soren Schroder, chief executive of Bunge, which produces ethanol in at sugar mills in Brazil and has a stake in a US corn ethanol refinery.
Scott Irwin, an agricultural economist at the University of Illinois, said: "It's difficult for me to construct a scenario where these proposed rules have anywhere near the kind of dire implications for the US domestic industry that lots of arguments have thrown around."
Copyright 2014 The Financial Times Ltd. All rights reserved.
Piling It On, Strategically - Ethanol Producer Magazine
February 17, 2014
Article by Susanne Retka Schill - Feb. 16, 2014
Todd Becker says his job is to reallocate as much of the middleman margin as possible to the company’s bottom line. So it may have seemed odd when in the fall of 2012, the company he leads as CEO, Green Plains Renewable Energy Inc., sold 83 percent of its grain storage capacity.
Becker explains that the company wasn’t abandoning the strategy of being a first-handler of corn. The elevator system was making money and reducing risk. “But it wasn’t fully integrated in our supply chain,” he says. “We didn’t actually ship a lot of corn out of our facilities to our ethanol plants. A couple of years ago, we said, ‘We love the grain business, but what if there’s a better way to skin the cat?’” The company decided there is. Green Plains sold 12 grain elevators in Tennessee and Iowa to another ethanol producer with a good-sized grain business—The Andersons—for $133 million. “We had 38 million [bushels of] storage and we sold them 32.6 million [of it], but we’re not leaving the agriculture handling business,” Becker says. “We’re just going to reallocate that capital so it more closely aligns with our supply chain, with direct access to our ethanol production.”
Ethanol industry back in the black after rough years - Star Tribune
February 14, 2014
Article by David Shaffer - Feb. 14, 2014
Boom times are back in the ethanol business.
Major producers of the corn-based fuel are reporting record returns for the fourth quarter thanks to dramatically lower corn prices, increasing demand for motor fuel and strong ethanol exports.
It’s a complete reversal from 2012, when drought sent corn prices higher than $8 per bushel, leaving many of the nation’s 210 ethanol plants unprofitable and forcing some to close and others to be sold.
Green Plains Renewable Energy, the nation’s fourth-largest ethanol producer with two plants in Minnesota and 10 elsewhere, recently reported that the last quarter of 2013 was its best ever — and the current quarter may be better. Valero, the nation’s third-largest ethanol producer and owner of Minnesota’s largest ethanol plant and nine more in other states, also reported record ethanol operating income in the fourth quarter.