Fuel quality debate limited to cheaper and dirtier options

The Ministerial Forum on Vehicle Emissions has released a draft regulation impact statement (RIS) that will form the basis of a new round of consultation on possible changes to fuel quality in Australia.

The draft RIS focuses on three options for updating fuel standards that were considered in earlier consultations. It has ruled out two options that would have had the greatest health and environmental benefits, but also the greatest costs.

Of the two options that have been ruled out, one, known as Option D, would have aligned fuel standards with the Worldwide Fuel Charter, and would have provided the greatest health and environmental benefits, but was judged as too costly to deliver benefit to the Australian community. The Australian Institute of Petroleum argued that its adoption would likely close the Australian refining industry.

The second excluded option – Option E - involved a staged introduction of world standards beginning in 2020, and was regarded as having too short a lead time for completion of necessary capital works.

Of the three remaining options, the first is no change to current regulations. The other two propose reducing aromatics from 45% to 35% and reducing sulfur content to 10ppm in line with European fuel standards, and one of these options also proposes increasing the minimum octane number from 91 to 95, also in line with Europe.

A new option has been proposed by the petroleum industry that would hold the minimum octane level at 91%, only reduce sulfur content to 10ppm by 2027, and leave aromatics levels at 45% - making it the least healthy and environmentally beneficial option.

The Ministerial Forum is seeking feedback on the draft Regulation Impact Statement by March 8. The impact statement, entitled Better fuel for cleaner air, is available here

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