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Argentina cuts biodiesel prices for oil refiners in December

Buenos Aires — Argentina's Energy Secretariat cut the price of biodiesel supplies for mixing intodiesel in December, the first reduction in more than a year, according to data released Thursday.

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The price of biodiesel, made from soy oil in Argentina, was reduced 4.6% to Peso 26,832/mt ($712.95/mt), effective December 1, from Peso 28,112/mt in November, the department said in a statement.

The department did not give reasons for the changes, which it makes monthly to reflect fluctuations in the cost of producing the fuel additives. The last cut was in May 2017. Refiners buy all of their biodiesel supplies from local producers to meet a 10% blend in diesel.

Biofuel industry groups had been demanding higher prices, saying that a contracting economy, fast inflation, 60%-plus borrowing rates and a more than 100% depreciation of the peso against the dollar this year have pushed up costs and dampened profits.

The economy is poised to contract 2.4% this year and inflation to surpass 44%, according to economists surveyed by the central bank.

For oil refiners, the lower cost of the biofuel additives comes as they bring down retail prices in line with a recent decline in crude prices, easing pressure on their margins.

The biggest refiner is state-run YPF, with a 55% share of diesel and gasoline sales, trailed by Shell-backed Raizen, BP-backed Pan American Energy and Trafigura. -- Charles Newbery,

-- Edited by Annie Siebert,