Gasoline Price Plunge in U.S. Slowed by Higher Ethanol Costs
by Mario Parker (Bloomberg BusinessWeek) The biggest plunge in U.S. gasoline prices since 2008 is slowing as higher ethanol boosts the cost to make the motor fuel. Ethanol futures surpassed gasoline last month for the first time since March. Faced with higher costs, refiners and blenders used the least ethanol in a year last week. Pump prices have slipped 6.6 cents in the past week, the smallest drop in a month, according to AAA.
Ethanol prices have fallen one-third as much as gasoline since late June because the cost of corn, used to make the biofuel, has increased from a five-year low in September. Instead of blending, refiners are buying credits to meet federal requirements, driving up the cost for those to the highest since August 2013.
Ethanol blended into gasoline dropped 7.8 percent to 789,000 barrels a day last week, U.S. Energy Information Administration data show. The percentage of ethanol blended in gasoline was 9 percent, after sinking to a three-year low of 8.9 percent the previous week.
Meanwhile, a 5 percent increase in corn prices in the past month has eroded margins for ethanol makers and slowed price declines for the fuel, leaving it at a premium to gasoline, compared with a historical discount of about 20 cents, says Scott Irwin, renewable fuels specialist at the University of Illinois in Urbana. READ MORE and MORE (CNBC) and MORE (Platts) and MORE (Reuters) and MORE (Environmental and Energy Study Institute) and MORE (Yahoo!) and MORE (Des Moines Register)