EU investigates fixing of ethanol benchmark price

The European Commission (EC) is investigating three ethanol producers for potentially colluding in manipulating the benchmark prices of biofuels. The three ethanol producers are Spain’s Abengoa SA, Belgium’s Alcogroup SA and Sweden’s Lantmannen ek för.

The European Commission said it was concerned that these companies may have colluded in manipulating the benchmark ethanol prices published by Platts, a McGraw-Hill publication, by agreeing to submit or support bids to hike the benchmark and so drive up ethanol prices.

It added that the practice could lead to a reduction of the use of biofuels as an alternative to fossil fuels, with negative consequences for consumers and the environment.

“Competitive biofuels markets are crucial to promote cleaner transport and to cut greenhouse gas emissions. This is an important element of the Commission’s ambitious strategy to limit greenhouse gas emissions and to boost renewable energies,” EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

The commission has dropped Shell, BP and Statoil from their investigation. But in a separate case, the Commission said it is also investigating several bioethanol producers on suspicion of taking part in a cartel, following searches of their offices. The oil majors are not involved in this case either.

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