The price of gasoline has remained $1 more than the average during the past decade due in part to Renewable Identification Numbers, credits that refiners purchase and are designed to increase the use of ethanol. Bloomberg data revealed that RIN costs went up from 7.1 cents per gallon on Jan. 7 to $1.06 on March 8. Todd Becker, president and CEO of Green Plains Renewable Energy, attributed the higher RIN costs to lack of supply, saying refiners can still use the required ethanol consumption within the blend wall.
ConocoPhillips has threatened to end its franchise agreement with Zarco 66 in Kansas, the first fueling station in the U.S. to offer E15, according to the Renewable Fuels Association. The association has asked for a multiagency investigation. "ConocoPhillips quickly threatened to terminate Zarco 66's franchise agreement and charge Zarco 66 hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties unless Zarco 66 started offering 'premium' gasoline," said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen.
The ethanol industry experienced a rough 2012 because of the nationwide drought, coupled with the decrease in gas consumption. However, some observers expect the sector to rebound in 2013. "I would expect 2013 production to be at or above 2012 levels. That's the real economic story here -- stable and growing markets for America's grain drives hard work and innovation to create a higher economic standard for rural areas," said industry consultant Ron Miller, former CEO of Aventine Renewable Energy.
May corn settled at $7.333 per bushel Thursday, up 0.5 cents, on the Chicago Board of Trade. May light sweet crude closed at $92.45 per barrel, down $1.05, on the New York Mercantile Exchange. April denatured ethanol shed 1.6 cents to end at $2.569 per gallon on the CBOT.
Recent dramatic shifts in gasoline prices should not be blamed on Renewable Identification Numbers, according to Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill. Shimkus said RINs are given away by renewable fuel producers to refiners without cost and are only used every February to establish that a producer met its obligation under the Renewable Fuel Standard.