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New generation of fuels for New Zealand

29 August 2005

New generation of fuels for New Zealand

A new generation of fuels will be produced in New Zealand from 1 September 2005 as new Government fuel specifications come into effect.

New Government regulations will require the sulphur content of diesel to be reduced from the current 500 parts per million (ppm) to 50ppm and the benzene content of petrol from three to one per cent.

The New Zealand Refining Company (NZRC) will begin producing these new fuels from 1 September 2005 in order to ensure all fuels sold in New Zealand from 1 January 2006 meet the new specifications.

BP New Zealand Managing Director, Peter Griffiths, said the package of changes would significantly improve the quality of New Zealand’s fuel and bring it into line with the highest international standards.

“BP strongly supports these changes. The reduction in sulphur levels, in particular, will benefit human health and help improve air quality in our towns and cities,” he said.

The new specifications, particularly the reduction in benzene, will make it more difficult and expensive for the NZRC to continue producing 96 octane petrol. As a result, the NZRC will begin producing 95 octane premium petrol, instead of the current 96 octane from October 2005.

95 octane premium petrol is the international standard and the Government’s minimum octane standard for premium fuels. The shift to the international 95 octane standard has been anticipated in New Zealand since lead was removed from petrol in 1996.

New Zealand imports around 40 per cent of its petrol, with the NZRC producing the rest. With New Zealand importing increasing volumes of petrol, moving to the international 95 octane standard will make it easier to source suitable petrol imports.

Mr Griffiths said BP expected the package of new fuel specifications would pass unnoticed by the vast majority of motorists.

Owners of modern diesel vehicles should not experience difficulties from the new fuel, though owners of older diesel vehicles should discuss the change with their mechanic.

Most vehicles in New Zealand that run on 96 octane petrol will experience little or no change in performance when using 95 octane petrol. However, a small number of pre-1990 European cars may not run as well on a 95 octane fuel. These vehicles make up less than one per cent of all licensed petrol-driven cars in New Zealand. A further 1.0 to 1.5 per cent of mainly European cars may need an ignition timing adjustment. In this case, owners should talk to their mechanic.

Mr Griffiths said for drivers who wish to use a higher-octane fuel, BP offers its 98 octane BP Ultimate petrol from 107 service stations across the North and South Islands.

ENDS

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