|SOne of the short-term issues is how might
changing gasoline specifications in the United States affect the availability
of imports from other regions. As
EIA has discussed in other reports, the ban on MTBE requires very low RVP
gasoline components to blend with ethanol in order to produce RFG. The low
RVP reformulated gasoline blendstock for oxygenate blending (RBOB) is unique
to the United States, and we see no signs of other countries moving this
direction. This reduces the number of
import suppliers that can provide RFG components from the number that were
able to provide MTBE-blended RFG.
|SU.S. sulfur constraints are also expected
to reduce the number of suppliers, but more for timing reasons than because
the United States is taking a unique specification path. The United States is moving to low sulfur
product before many other regions do so.
|–Europe is relatively close to U.S. standards,
and its exports to the United States may not be limited by sulfur. In fact, with its tax incentive programs,
gasoline being sold in some European countries today has lower sulfur content
than U.S. requirements.
|–South America generally is producing gasoline
with higher sulfur levels than in the United States, and that is not expected
to change soon.
|–Asia is moving to lower sulfur levels in some
countries, but also has higher sulfur specifications in many regions still.
|SThese regional specifications along with
knowledge of where our imports are coming from can give us a clue as to how
the U.S. specifications may impact import availability.