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Fuel Buyers Summit: The surging investment in renewable diesel

Refining consultant John Auers discusses technological benefits of the growing source of supply

This fireside chat recap is from the FreightWaves Fuel Buyers Summit. 

FIRESIDE CHAT TOPIC: Renewable diesel is a perfect substitute for petroleum diesel, and it has a lot of government backing.

DETAILS: There’s lots of investment going into renewable diesel, but an incentive to consume renewable diesel in California means that most of it is being used in that state.  

SPEAKER: John Auers, executive vice president of Turner Mason & Co., interviewed by FreightWaves Editor at Large John Kingston. 

BIO: Auers is a 40-year-plus veteran of the petroleum refining industry. He is currently executive vice president of Turner, Mason & Co., an international energy consulting firm in Dallas. He is the team leader of TM&C’s subscription products, including The Crude and Refined Products Outlook and the Worldwide Refinery Construction Outlook. He also leads assignments in the areas of refining economics and planning, LP modeling, refined product and crude market analysis, crude oil value assessment, downstream asset valuation, capital investment studies, and strategic planning. Auers joined the firm in 1987 after spending seven years with Exxon Corp., where he held various positions at its Baytown, Texas, refinery.


“To become renewable diesel, it has to be hydrotreated, which means hydrogen needs to be introduced in a process very similar to that used in petroleum refining. Once it is hydrotreated, renewable diesel is essentially identical to petroleum diesel.”

“Biodiesel is not hydrotreated, produced from a less intensive process, which means a less expensive process. It is an inferior product from a blending and combustible perspective.”

“Renewable diesel is supported by government incentives and mandates, and the large majority of it is being consumed in California.”

Asked if a consumer could tell the difference when filling up with renewable diesel versus petroleum diesel: “You would have no idea.”

“There is a feedstock supply wall. Advantaged feedstocks from a producer point of view, like tallow and animal fats, those supplies aren’t growing. As demand for renewable diesel grows, you’re going to run out of that supply. So incremental supply is primarily going to come from soybean oil.”

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John Kingston

John has an almost 40-year career covering commodities, most of the time at S&P Global Platts. He created the Dated Brent benchmark, now the world’s most important crude oil marker. He was Director of Oil, Director of News, the editor in chief of Platts Oilgram News and the “talking head” for Platts on numerous media outlets, including CNBC, Fox Business and Canada’s BNN. He covered metals before joining Platts and then spent a year running Platts’ metals business as well. He was awarded the International Association of Energy Economics Award for Excellence in Written Journalism in 2015. In 2010, he won two Corporate Achievement Awards from McGraw-Hill, an extremely rare accomplishment, one for steering coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the other for the launch of a public affairs television show, Platts Energy Week.