Much of the industrial activity in EVE Online hinges on the use of starbases, player-owned satellites usable for everything from moon mining to copying blueprints. In order to keep running, starbases must be regularly supplied with specially made fuel blocks, or else go offline. Let's take a look at whether there is profit to be made in producing this fuel.
This guide assumes that you are acting as the middle man, buying fuel ingredients off of the market, assembling them into fuel blocks, then reselling them at what is hopefully a profit.
This model has several advantages:
- It requires very little attention, aside from updating some buy and sell orders every day or two.
- It is simple enough and requires few enough skills that you can comfortable manage things with a secondary character, while devoting the bulk of your time and energy to other things.
- The EVE ISK investment can be as large or as small as you like.
- There is no failing here. The worst thing that can happen is you buy when commodities are at a high (unlikely if you pay attention to sales over time) and then sell after prices crash.
It also has some disadvantages:
- Your profits are someone married to the market: when things are booming, you earn ISK hands over fist. When things are slow, so is the rate your bank account grows.
- There may not always be ISK to be made in direct conversion of ingredients into fuel, i.e. you may be reliant upon buy orders for ingredients rather than sell orders. This should not be a deal breaker since the Jita market is quite brisk, but it can sometimes reduce the predictability of your profits. For example, someone may sell a huge amount of one fuel ingredient to one of your buy orders while at the same time the others don't get much action. That ties up capital while still not allowing you to make fuel, since you need all ingredients. The worst case scenario here is that you
How Starbase Fuel Works
Starbase fuel is made of a cocktail combining many different items produced on planets with some material refined from ice asteroids. There are four different flavors of fuel blocks, one for each of the major NPC factions. Starbases use one of the four flavors of fuel, with one ingredient used in the fuel blocks varying depending on which fuel you are making.
In order to make one of the four fuel types, you will need a researched blueprint for that type. Most people seem to think that a blueprint with material efficiency of 15 is acceptable, though some people go as high as 40 despite the diminishing returns involved. Production efficiency is a bonus but not necessary.
While you can get a more detailed look at starbase fuel in this EVE guide here, the seven ingredients used in all fuel blocks are as follows:
- Planet Ingredients: Coolant, Enriched Uranium, Mechanical Parts, Oxygen, Robotics
Ice Ingredients: Heavy Water, Liquid Ozone
- The racial fuels that are only used in each individual fuel type are: Helium Isotopes (Amarr), Hydrogen Isotopes (Minmatar), Nitrogen Isotopes (Caldari), Oxygen Isotopes (Gallente). Note that these also come from ice asteroids, but I'm categorizing them separately for convenience.
The planet and ice fuels are things that you will want to set up buy orders for, while with the racial fuels you will probably want to concentrate on what is profitable (most likely this will be Caldari and Gallente fuel blocks, see below).
Which Fuels To Make?
The most popular starbases in EVE Online are Caldari. Based on twitter remarks by CCP Diagoras, it is quite possible that there are nearly as many Caldari as there are of all the other races combined. Possibly it is only that the fuel market is, but either way that means that you will probably want to pick yourself up a blueprint original for Caldari Fuel Blocks, plus any other blocks that you might conceivably make. If you want to get right into things, you can buy the researched blueprints at a markup. Or if you are patient or have access to research slots, you can research the blueprints yourself.
Where To Build?
After the most recent spate of bot and RMT bannings, the manufacturing slots in and around Jita have become remarkably clear. This will likely not last for too long, but you should be able to find a place to build that is no more than a jump or two from Jita. When you get enough material ingredients to make a batch, use an industrial or freighter to bring them over to your factory station of choice. Freighters are a far superior choice because they avoid suicide attacks, which are lamentably still a factor for industrials or other poorly tanked ships.
Producing Your Own Materials
Planetary interaction is easy ISK. As a captain of EVE industry, it is very likely that you will want to produce at least some of the fuel block ingredients, yourself. There are two ways to go about this:
First, you can produce whatever is most expensive to buy (likely robotics). That is the most technically efficient way, and many players espouse the virtues of always performing the most lucrative action (myself included). It can be much cheaper and easier to buy only one ingredient for robotics or coolant, then combine them with other ingredients on factory-oriented planets.
Second, you can produce what is convenient. For example, it is not hard to crank out huge amounts of oxygen with very little effort. It may be easier to do this than to worry about moving around random ingredients and trying to completely maximize your income. It also means you won't hold up your production waiting for your planets to make product.
Either way, it is probably best to pick a model and stick with it, rather than trying to re-optimize your planets every time the market shifts a bit. In my view, planetary interaction should be one evening of hassle setting things up, then an eternity of low-effort clicking extractors and collecting product.
The Maths Of Profits
The following are the Jita sell prices for the universal fuel ingredients:
- Coolant: 8416.76 ISK
- Enriched Uranium: 8372.97 ISK
- Mechanical Parts: 6649.84 ISK
- Oxygen: 195.85 ISK
- Robotics: 55,849.97 ISK
- Heavy Water: 83.19 ISK
- Liquid Ozone: 369.58 ISK
For your mathematical convenience, the total cost of ingredients for a batch of fuel blocks made with a material efficiency 15 blueprint is 255,560.56 ISK, less any discounts from buy orders or producing your own materials.
- Helium Isotopes: 547.88 ISK
- Hydrogen Isotopes: 870 ISK
- Nitrogen Isotopes: 772.91 ISK
- Oxygen Isotopes: 688.69 ISK
Now, here are the sell prices for each of the fuel blocks:
- Amarr Fuel Blocks: 12,889 ISK
- Caldari Fuel Blocks: 14,199.99 ISK
- Gallente Fuel Blocks: 13,213.85 ISK
- Minmatar Fuel Blocks: 14,155.45 ISK
The cost of making each fuel block, assuming one buys the ingredients directly off the market, is as follows:
- Amarr Fuel Blocks: 11,908.91 ISK per block
- Caldari Fuel Blocks: 14,176.08 ISK per block
- Gallente Fuel Blocks: 13,327.57 ISK per block
- Minmatar Fuel Blocks: 15,154.26 ISK per block
Please note that each run of a fuel block blueprint produces 40 of a given fuel block, rather than just one.
Obnoxiously enough for my math-doing, most of the isotopes appear to have undergone a fairly recent price spike. Whether this is the market adjusting itself or a manipulation attempt is a mystery, though my hard-earned EVE ISK is on the latter. If it proves to be an adjustment then the prices of the fuel blocks will rise accordingly. If it is just some guys fooling around with the market, prices should recede to a level where it is profitable to make the various fuel blocks, again.
Some Final EVE Industry Thoughts
Though the current market climate is not ideal for making some of the blocks, the model is sound. Turning the ingredients into fuel blocks adds value to them, and is a good way to make your EVE ISK work for you. As things stand, Amarr fuel blocks look like a profitable endeavor, while Gallente or Caldari fuel blocks look like they would be a good way if and only if you could get the isotopes cheaply via buy orders.
Once the market settles down and jerks stop manipulating isotope prices, things should be nicely profitable. As long as you use buy orders and don't decide to make Minmatar or Gallente blocks right this instant, you should be all set to make lots of money in the long term. In fact, this makes it an ideal time to buy and begin researching blueprint originals. By the time they come out of research, the market should be much calmer.
I hope this guide has proven inspirational for your industrial activities in EVE, even if you don't go with this particular model. Good luck!
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