Worst may be over, says ethanol leader

Ethanol production fell to record lows during April due to the coronavirus but is showing modest signs of recovery, said Geoff Cooper, chief executive of the Renewable Fuels Association. “It seems that the worst may be behind us,” Cooper said during a teleconference.

In late April, production ran at an annualized rate of 8.2 billion gallons, less than half of its pace in February, before the coronavirus became pandemic. Output rose 3 percent in the week ending May 8, to 25.9 million gallons a day — the highest in five weeks.

“We are starting to see some plants come back on line,” said Cooper during the teleconference on Friday. “We still have a long way to go to climb out of the hole that Covid-19 put us in.”

Some 60 plants remain shuttered and dozens more are running at reduced capacity, he said. There are more than 200 ethanol plants nationwide.