U.S. renewable fuel credits dive as White House sets talks on biofuels -traders


NEW YORK, Dec 13 (Reuters) - U.S. renewable fuel credits have sunk to their lowest levels in two months amid efforts by President Donald Trump's administration to mediate talks between oil and corn interests over ways help refiners meet the country's biofuels policy, traders said.

The White House was expected to host its second meeting in as many weeks on Wednesday about biofuels, this time between the staff of lawmakers representing the rival oil and biofuels industries, fueling speculation that a deal could be struck that would lower credit prices.

Prices of renewable fuel (D6) credits were trading at roughly 74 cents on Wednesday, its lowest levels since early October, according to traders and Oil Price Information Service. The credits were trading at 90 cents each at the end of November.

The price drop was due largely to reports that U.S. Senators led by Texas Republican Ted Cruz were able to convince the Trump administration to help compel corn-state lawmakers like Republican Chuck Grassley of Iowa to participate in discussions over potential changes to the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), traders said.

Traders also cited some unexpected selling by small refiners who were granted waivers from the program by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"The small refiners were bringing the price down, but the talks in DC really added fuel to the sell off," a trader said.

The meeting on Wednesday will include staff from the offices of Republican Senators Cruz and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, both representing the oil-refining industry, sources told Reuters.

On the corn side, staff will be present from the offices of Republican Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst of Iowa, along with Deb Fischer of Nebraska, the sources said. Staff from the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture were also expected to attend.

The RFS was introduced more than a decade ago by President George W. Bush as a way to boost U.S. agriculture, slash energy imports and cut emissions, and it has since fostered a market for ethanol amounting to 15 billion gallons a year.

Refining companies - like Philadelphia Energy Solutions and Monroe Energy, both of Pennsylvania, along with Texas giant Valero Energy Corp - that do not have adequate facilities to blend biofuels into their products are required to purchase blending credits called RINs from rivals that do.

They have pressed the administration to adopt reforms that would lower the credit costs, but the ethanol industry has successfully defeated those efforts. (Reporting By Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by David Gregorio)