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Argentina hikes December sugarcane ethanol price for refiners by 4.2% on month

Buenos Aires — Argentina's Energy Secretariat raised the December price of sugarcane-derived ethanol that refiners must mix into gasoline, and cut the price of ethanol sourced from a corn feedstock, according to data released Friday.

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The price of sugarcane ethanol was increased 4.2% to Argentinian Pesos 22.160/liter (58.2 cents/liter), effective December 1, from Argentinian Pesos 21.274/liter in November, according to data posted on the department's website.

For corn-based ethanol, the price was cut 2% to Argentinian Pesos 19.455/liter from Argentinian Pesos 19.846/liter in November, the data show.

The department did not give reasons for the changes, which it makes monthly to reflect fluctuations in the cost of producing the fuel additives. Refiners buy all of their ethanol supplies from local producers to meet a 12% share of the final fuel.

Biofuel industry groups have been demanding higher prices, warning that a souring economy, high inflation, 60% borrowing rates and a more than 100% depreciation of the peso against the dollar this year are pushing up costs and cutting profits.

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

The pricing changes come as the refining sector shows the first signs of recovery from a decline in output for much of this year. In October, crude runs rose 8% year on year, reducing the year-on-year drop in the first 10 months of 2018 to 6.8% from 8.2% in the first three quarters of the year, according to the latest refining data from Indec, the state statistics department.

The country's 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, newsdesk@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh, newsdesk@spglobal.com