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Posted on  

December 18, 2002

Australia puts off imposing cap on ethanol in fuel

AUSTRALIA: December 18, 2002

CANBERRA - The Australian government said on Tuesday that evidence about mixing ethanol in petrol was inconclusive, putting aside any decision on whether to impose a maximum limit on ethanol content in fuel until next year.

Ethanol has attracted international attention as a clean fuel that can be distilled from crops such as grains and sugar cane, with fuel containing 20 percent ethanol available in the Sydney market since 1994.

But the government has come under fire from motoring groups for being slow to apply national fuel standards to ethanol levels, fearing strong blends may damage car engines and calling for a 10 percent limit.

Environment Minister David Kemp said cabinet, meeting on Tuesday, reviewed the evidence of the impact of blends of 20 percent ethanol in petrol on the operability, emissions and durability of engines.

"(Cabinet) reaffirmed its view that the evidence for the impact of blends between 10 and 20 percent is presently inconclusive," Kemp said in a statement.

"The government is currently conducting vehicle testing to clarify these impacts, prior to the development of a soundly based National Fuel Standard."

The government expects to receive this report next year.

But, in the meantime, Kemp called on the country's six state governments to ensure levels of ethanol in petrol are labelled at the pump, stressing it was their responsibility.

Kemp said a sampling programme by Environment Australia from April 2002 had taken 586 samples from petrol stations around the country and found 55 of these, or 9.4 percent, contained ethanol.

Existing Australian ethanol production is comparatively small-scale, with total capacity of about 130 million litres, and mainly for export to Asian markets as an alcohol additive.



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