R-Squared Energy Blog

Pure Energy

Valero Now in the Ethanol Business

In an update to Big Oil Buys Big Ethanol, it is official:

Valero Energy, the Oil Refiner, Wins an Auction for 7 Ethanol Plants

Valero Energy, the country’s largest independent refiner, said on Wednesday that it would buy seven ethanol plants from VeraSun Energy for $477 million, giving the biofuel industry a lift at a time when it is suffering from excess production capacity and falling gasoline consumption.

VeraSun, the nation’s second-largest ethanol producer after Archer Daniels Midland, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last fall. Valero’s purchase signals important new support for a flagging industry from an unexpected quarter. In recent years, refiners have opposed Congressional mandates for refineries to blend increasing amounts of ethanol in gasoline, arguing that it made neither economic nor environmental sense.

So, for the price of $477 million, which would be less than 5 days of profit for someone like ExxonMobil, you can be the 2nd largest ethanol producer in the country. Even for Valero, $477 million is a piece of cake. Like I say, people who think the ethanol industry is a threat to the oil industry don’t understand the difference in scale between the two. If ethanol starts to look like a good business model, the oil industry will buy up the assets without breaking a sweat. The first salvo has been fired.

March 20, 2009 Posted by | ethanol, oil companies, verasun | 14 Comments

The Oil Industry Helps Bail Out AIG

OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration. But they did just chip in close a billion dollars to the government coffers that are propping up AIG:

US Central Gulf Lease Sale Bids Total $703 Million

HOUSTON -(Dow Jones)- U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the Central Gulf of Mexico Oil and Gas Lease Sale 208, held Wednesday in New Orleans, attracted more than $703 million in high bids.

The sale was conducted by Interior’s Minerals Management Service, or MMS, and had 70 companies submitting 476 bids on 348 tracts comprising over 1.9 million acres offshore Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

However, that amount was lower than last year’s take (also a small fraction of the size of the AIG bailout):

The total amount of money that MMS would collect from this Central Gulf Lease sale is lower than last year, which attracted 78 companies and collected a record $3.7 billion, amid booming prices for oil and gas.

Given that we are now into AIG for $170 billion, another 242 successful auctions like the one yesterday and the AIG debt will be covered. Of course that’s assuming we aren’t soon out another $170 billion, and the oil industry hasn’t been taxed out of existence.

March 20, 2009 Posted by | AIG, MMS, oil companies, oil lease | 2 Comments