ADM considers calling time on ethanol mills as oil fall bites


Exactly 10 years ago, Archer Daniels Midland announced the first of two new corn mills that would cement the agribusiness company’s status as America’s top ethanol producer.

“Ethanol and other biofuels are an increasingly important part of the world’s energy supply, especially as the world’s energy needs continue to grow,” Edward Harjehausen, ADM senior vice-president of corn milling and bioproducts, said in a statement in 2006. 

However, less than six years after ribbons were cut, the two mills in Nebraska and Iowa and an older one in Illinois will be reviewed for “strategic options,” the company disclosed last week — a study that could lead to a sale.  

It is a far cry from 2006: crude oil prices had cleared $60 a barrel, travellers were burning record amounts of petrol and Washington had just passed a mandate requiring biofuel use. ADM spent $1.3bn on new mills to lift its ethanol production capacity to 1.7bn gallons per year. (Gregory Meyer, Financial Times)