CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, AUSTRALIAN INSTITUTE OF PETROLEUM
THE POOR quality of Australian fuel has been a political hot potato for years, while the struggle to nail down a new emissions standard is becoming a national embarrassment.
Improving emissions means cutting fuel consumption and improving health, but a key component in that process is improving the quality of petroleum.
With tough Euro 6 emissions standards in place in Europe and being debated for Australia, the need is becoming urgent for a low 10 parts per million (ppm) sulphur fuel to become available on the forecourt. Currently, regular unleaded is 150ppm and premium 50ppm.
Unless that cut happens, Australians may miss out on the latest high-quality engines from some manufacturers because of poor fuel quality.
The car companies are all for better fuel, but the oil refining industry isn’t so happy, claiming it could endanger the future of some of Australia’s four remaining refineries and be hideously expensive to upgrade the rest.
Less refining capacity means Australia’s already shaky fuel security is put at risk in a time of crisis such as a military conflict.
It’s a potent argument that has been enough to keep the lid on the issue. And for that the industry’s lobby group, the AIP, can take a lot of the credit.
In the CV of current CEO Paul Barrett, you can see why it has gained a sympathetic ear in the halls of power. Smart and well-connected, he worked in the department of Prime Minister and Cabinet before joining the AIP.
Mind you, even the AIP is now signalling its acceptance that something needs to be done, although its timeframes for improvement don’t go as far or as quickly as the automotive industry would like.