The European Commission announced on Monday that it has opened an enquiry to determine if three European producers of biofuel manipulated the ethanol price benchmarks, which are published by a price monitoring organisation. The companies in question are “Spain’s Abengoa, Belgium’s Alcogroup and Sweden’s Lantmännen ek för, as well as their interested subsidiaries,” stated the European Competition Commission in its communiqué.
The Commission fears “that these businesses agreed to manipulate the ethanol price benchmark published by the price monitoring organisation Platts by, for example, agreeing to make or support offers, so as to increase the price benchmarks and thus the overall the price of ethanol. Such practices, if they are confirmed both prejudice competition and harm the EU’s energy objectives by increasing the price of renewable energy, in this case biofuels used in transport,” the Commission stated.
“This could lead to a reduction in the use of biofuels instead of fossil fuels which may have negative consequences, as much for consumers as for the environment,” states the Commission’s communiqué. Ethanol is a type of alcohol made from biomass (including corn, maize and sugarbeet), which is mainly used as an additive to petrol and used as a biofuel in certain motor vehicles.
Last April, the European Commission announced that, at the end of March, it had led a surprise inspection in several premises of an ethanol producer suspected of anti-competitive practices. It had not divulged the company name.