OIL FIRMS SAY NEW EU RULES TOO TOUGH

The oil industry has hit out at European environment ministers for `unnecessarily tightening’ fuel quality requirements for 2000 and for `prejudging’ standards for 2005. Last week’s council of environment ministers agreed to reduce sulphur in petrol to 150mg/kg, compared with 200mg/kg originally proposed; benzene from 2% to 1%; and aromatics from 45% to 42% from […]

The oil industry has hit out at European environment ministers for `unnecessarily tightening’ fuel quality requirements for 2000 and for `prejudging’ standards for 2005.

Last week’s council of environment ministers agreed to reduce sulphur in petrol to 150mg/kg, compared with 200mg/kg originally proposed; benzene from 2% to 1%; and aromatics from 45% to 42% from 2000. Indicative values adopted for 2005 are 35% aromatics in petrol and 50mg/kg sulphur in both petrol and diesel.

The European oil industry organisation Europia said the tighter 2000 limits would do little for air quality but would increase costs from £7.86bn to £1.35bn across Europe, mostly due to the benzene reduction. It added that there was no threat to health from present benzene levels in petrol.

There is more concern about the 2005 figures. Mike Frend, UK Petroleum Industry Association director general, said: `We are concerned that the environment council’s decision to set indicative values is prejudging the issues to be considered by Auto Oil II. We would have preferred them to set a range to be investigated.’

Auto Oil II is a tripartite study involving the oil and automotive industries and EU governments to decide what specifications for emissions and fuel quality should apply after 2005. It will include emissions from stationary sources.