(Photo: secretary Lopetegui talking last week at the Córdoba Commerce Exchange)

Buenos Aires, June 3rd. Energy Secretary Gustavo Lopetegui expressed what the most liberal wing of President Macri’s Administration thinks about the renewable fuels policy. Invited by the Commerce Exchange of Córdoba Province he said that ethanol is cheaper than gasoline only due to the tax exemption and that he would like to see ethanol and gasoline competing in equal conditions.

The legal scheme from renewable fuels is based in a mandatory blend (12% for ethanol, 10% for biodiesel) and tax exemptions with respect to fossil fuels. “Today, the renewable fuels policy is a fiscal cost for a Nation in bankruptcy”, Lopetegui opined.

The official talked in a provocative way because Cordoba is the province where most of the corn-based ethanol plants were mounted. But there were not the corn ethanol industries which reply Lopetegui, but sugarcane ethanol industries did.

The Argentine Sugar Centre (CAA) released a press statement saying that they reject the Lopetegui’s claims. “When Lopetegui talks about subsidies he should talk about Vaca Muerta (the non-conventional oil and gas field), not about biofuels, because of the tax exemption is just to reward its environment benefits”, the CAA expresses.

Furthermore, the industry considered “inappropriate” Lopetegui’s claims about that “it doesn’t like him nothing” the quota system and price determination by Government, established in the current renewable fuels program. The secretary said that he would like to see ethanol and gasoline competing in a free market.

Local analysts interpreted that the words of the official mean that there is zero chance that the Government raises the mandatory blend of ethanol from the current 12% to 15% as the industry wants. Cordoba’s Agriculture ministry, Carlos Busso, criticized the Government decision saying that Córdoba is the largest corn producer province in the country and that the ethanol factories add value to the grain, creating employment and enhancing the local economy.

In an opposite way, representatives at the Congress from the North Argentina provinces presented law projects to extend the renewable fuels promotion program (which expires next year) for other ten years and increasing the mandatory blend.

At the same time that Lopetegui rejected the biofuels policy, the Trump Administration lifted the E15 ban for the summertime, benefiting corn farmers.