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CVR Q1 income doubles on stronger crack spreads, lower biofuels cost

NEW YORK, April 26 (Reuters) - CVR Energy Inc refining unit's income more than doubled in the first quarter, versus the prior-year period, the company said on Thursday, citing stronger crack spreads and lower biofuels compliance costs.

*CVR Refining reported net income of $147 million for the first quarter, up from $67 million in the same period of 2017.

* "The quarter's fiscal performance was driven by stronger crack spreads, hedging gains, a reduction to our estimated Renewable Volume Obligation and lower" prices of biofuels credits," said Dave Lamp, CVR's chief executive officer.

* When asked on an investor call if the company received a small refinery hardship exemption for its Wynnewood, Oklahoma, refinery, Lamp said: "(T)he request for or granting of a waiver, something we consider very confidential and we will not discuss that." * Oil refiners and other fuel companies are required to blend biofuels such as ethanol with their petroleum-based products each year, though refiners with capacity below 75,000 barrels per day can apply for a waiver of those obligations.

* The Environmental Protection Agency has said it has given 25 such exemptions for 2017.

* CVR Refining said on Thursday that it turned a $23 million profit on Renewable Identification Number (RIN) credits in the first quarter, nearly quadrupling the $6 million it earned in the market for biofuels credits in the same period of 2017.

* The company said it now expects its cost of complying with the Renewable Fuel Standard will fall to $80 million this year from roughly $249 million in 2017. The $80 million projection is also markedly below the $200 million in 2018 RIN costs that CVR estimated for this year when it released its fourth-quarter 2017 earnings in February.

(Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw and Chris Prentice Editing by Leslie Adler)