Hydrous ethanol prices in Brazil’s Center-South follow rally in global crude

 In In the News

Petrobras 37% cumulative price hike of gasoline ex-refinery

Brazilian FOB ethanol prices rally

Sao Paulo —
Hydrous ethanol prices in the Center-South have increased almost 13% or Real 205/cu m ex-mill Ribeirao Preto from the most recent low price of Real 1,595/cu m ex-mill Ribeirao Preto on April 24.

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S&P Global Platts assessed hydrous ethanol ex-mill Ribeirao Preto at Real 1,800/cu m Thursday.

Hydrous ethanol prices in the Center-South have experienced a fraction of the much larger positive price move experienced with international energy markets almost doubling during the previous four weeks.

NYMEX RBOB July futures have increased almost 85% and ICE Brent Crude July futures have increased more than 80% since their lows set on April 22.

Petrobras instituted an average gasoline price increase of 12% at refineries Thursday. This third price increase represents a cumulative 37% increase in gasoline prices ex-refinery during May that reflects a recovery in international energy markets and solidifies a strong reversal of the previous twelve price cuts instituted in the market this year.

“I am expecting Petrobras to continue increasing gasoline prices ex-refinery because the current gasoline import parity is valued around negative Real 185/cu m and Petrobras is seeking a positive Real 50/cu m for the gasoline import parity in the near-term,” said a Sao Paulo-based trader.

“Petrobras will need to increase the price of gasoline ex-refinery by an additional 18.5% before the import parity price for gasoline turns to a positive number approaching Real 50/cu m.”

Petrobras cut gasoline prices at refineries by more than a cumulative 50% for the year prior to the two most recent price increases of 11.5% and 10%, which had put massive downward pressure on hydrous ethanol prices in the first few months of 2020 because of an increase in consumer demand for cheaper gasoline.

Petrobras utilizes a fuel pricing policy, which include international energy and foreign exchange components to ensure Brazilian domestic prices are in line with international markets.

“I am expecting stronger ethanol prices in the Center-South in the near term as international energy markets rally from record low prices,” said a Rio de Janeiro-based trader.

The pass-through of the gasoline price increase at refineries will be passed along to the consumer at the pump dependent on commercial policies for gas stations and distributors.

According to Petrobras, the sale price of gasoline at its refineries is equivalent to 18% of the final price of the product – the rest is made up of taxes and margins from distributors and resellers.


Brazil FOB ethanol prices have rallied from the year’s lows on the back of a stronger Brazilian real to US dollar exchange rate in May.

FOB Santos anhydrous ethanol for loading 10-30 days forward was assessed Thursday at $312/cu m, an increase of around 11% from the lows set earlier in May.

S&P Platts assessed Grade B, FOB Santos for 20-30 days forward loading at $320/cu m, an increase of around 12% from the lows set in early May.

The Brazilian real to US dollar exchange rate has rallied 6% to Real 5.56/$1 from the recent low of Real 5.92/$1 recorded on May 13.

The Brazilian real is extremely volatile and the most recent price data of the Brazilian Real/US dollar exchange rate has a current 100-day historic volatility of 20% compared to the US Dollar Index having a 100-day historic volatility of 9.2%.

A 20% 100-day historical standard deviation points to the probability that the Brazilian real within the next 100 days could potentially experience a 20% price move, either an appreciation or depreciation against the US dollar. This would mean a Brazilian Real to US dollar exchange rate potential trading band of Real 6.67/$1 or Real 4.45/$1 in the next 100 days.

The reason the volatility in the Brazilian real against the US dollar exchange rate is the daily movements of the exchange rate equates into relative percent price swings in the Brazilian ethanol FOB priced in US dollars.

Continued appreciation in the Brazilian real against the US dollar in the near term will lend strength to FOB prices as exports are priced in US dollars.