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Imports from Latin America may help US meet energy goals, study finds
Date:3/4/2008

ecisions, Kline said. The potential for future biofuel feedstock production in Latin America offers interesting opportunities for the U.S. and developing nations.

Results suggest that an increasing portion of U.S. fossil fuel imports that now arrive from distant nations in Africa and the Middle East Asia could be replaced by renewable biofuels from neighbors in the Americas.

Paul Leiby, an ORNL expert on energy security, notes that ethanol from trading partners in this hemisphere could offer many mutual benefits: more reliable and diversified U.S. fuel supply, improved rural livelihoods in Latin America, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and the expanded availability of biofuel in many urban markets via delivery at coastal ports.

Biofuel imports complement domestic biofuel production and diminish reliance on oil, the price of which is unstable and strongly influenced by the OPEC cartel, Leiby said. Even if imported, biofuels can improve our energy security by reducing oil imports and expanding our base of independent fuel sources. Best of all, American consumers could pay less at the pump during energy emergencies.

ORNLs study focuses on assessing future potential for feedstock production in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, India, Mexico and the Caribbean Basin region. Countries were selected based on their potential to impact world biofuel markets, proximity to the U.S. and other criteria. The research team hopes to expand the analysis to include additional nations in Asia and Africa over the coming year.

The report, available at the website noted below, provides supply curves for selected countries and feedstocks projected to 2012, 2017 and 2027. Highlights include:

  • If the total projected feedstock supply calculated as available for export or biofuel in 2017 from these countries were converted to biofuel, it would represent the equivalent of about 38 billion gallons of gasoline. [See
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Contact: Ron Walli
wallira@ornl.gov
865-576-0226
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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