(Adds RIN prices, analyst comment, background)
By Ros Krasny
WASHINGTON, July 31 The U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency on Thursday extended for a third time the
deadline for refiners to show compliance with 2013 federal
biofuel use targets, a move quickly criticized by the oil
Annual compliance reports would be due 30 days after the
pending publication of the final rule on 2014 renewable fuels,
the agency said on its website.
Thursday's move was the third extension of the 2013
Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) compliance deadline, which was
originally to have been Feb. 28 and was first pushed to June and
then to September.
The EPA said the extension was necessary because refiners
need to know their 2014 obligations before they can determine
how many biofuel credits they may need to carry over from 2013
in order to comply with this year's requirements.
The final 2014 proposal is expected to be sent to the White
House within weeks, at which point the long-delayed rule will
enter its final review before public release.
But consideration of the proposal at the White House's
Office of Management and Budget could also take several weeks.
"We're concerned this delay means EPA will further delay the
final RFS requirements for this year," said Carlton Carroll, a
spokesman for the American Petroleum Institute. "The
administration's inability to meet deadlines is a clear example
of how the program is unworkable."
Carroll noted that the law governing the renewable fuel
program requires EPA to finalize its volume requirements for
2015 by Nov. 30 "but we're still waiting for them to finalize
requirements for this year."
The RFS requires increasing amounts of biofuels such as
corn-based ethanol and soy-derived biodiesel to be blended into
the U.S. fuel supply each year through 2022, peaking at 36
The agency caused an uproar in the renewable fuel industry
last autumn by lowering the proposed 2014 targets.
Many biofuel industry sources expect the EPA to slightly
raise the proposed levels in the final rule but still leave them
below the original mandate.
"EPA is likely to set targets that are closer to the
proposed levels rather than levels called for by some
stakeholders. We estimate that EPA has the latitude to increase
the total ethanol requirement up to 13.6 billion gallons based
on higher gasoline consumption estimates," said Timothy Cheung,
research analyst at Clearview Energy Partners.
The more U.S. gasoline is used, the more ethanol that can be
absorbed into the fuel supply at the 10-percent per gallon level
most common at U.S. gasoline stations.
In the market for Renewable Identification Number (RIN)
credits, ethanol RINs for the 2014 compliance traded on Thursday
at 52, 52.25 and 52.50 cents each, weaker after trading at 53
and 53.50 cents on Wednesday, brokers and traders said.
Biodiesel credits for 2014 traded at 55.50 cents, with
sellers asking 56 cents later. They traded at 56 and 57 cents on
(Additional reporting by Robert Gibbons in New York and Timothy
Gardner in Washington; Editing by Sandra Maler and Marguerita