Ethanol production reached approximately 14 billion gallons in 2011, and after accounting for 1.2 billion gallons of exports, implied approximately 12.9 billion gallons were consumed domestically in 2011. Assuming similar levels of consumption in 2012 due to the blend wall, this means somewhere between 0 and 500 million gallons of imported sugarcane ethanol, depending on biodiesel production, will comprise that 12.9 billion gallon total. In the absence of E15 or E85, this could lead to either reduced levels of domestic corn ethanol production and thus exports, or market conditions that encourage increased exports to both Brazil and other world markets as Brazilian sugarcane ethanol is exported primarily to the United States, which remains the major ethanol supplier to the rest of the world. In either scenario, it is possible that the 2012 RFS mandate of 15.2 billion gallons will not be met and banked credits from previous years will be used for compliance
While there are a number of complexities and potential renewable fuel mixes in store for the United States in 2012, it is likely to be a net exporter of ethanol, albeit at lower levels than in 2011. The trade balance is likely to be directly tied to Brazil in 2012 as a result of the Renewable Fuel Standard, with gasoline demand, E15 adoption, and even the biodiesel market influencing the total volumes.