German car-drivers group brings case against refiners in E10 dispute

05 April 2011 17:53  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS)--Germany’s car-drivers lobby group has begun legal proceedings against five oil firms in the ongoing dispute over the troubled launch of 10%-bioethanol blended (E10) gasoline at the country’s pumps, it said on Tuesday.

Introduced this year, E10 has proven unpopular with German drivers amid continued fears that it could cause damage to car engines.

The car-drivers lobby, ADAC, said in introducing E10 the oil firms stopped supplying E5 gasoline with 95 RON (research octane number), thus violating of their legal obligation to provide a “fair” alternative for those drivers whose cars cannot run on E10.

With the 95 RON gasoline no longer available, drivers wishing to avoid E10 had to resort to a more expensive 98 RON super gasoline, ADAC said.

The group added that it supports E10. However, while drivers' fears over E10 persist, they should not be forced to fill up on E10 or the more expensive 98 RON gasoline, but rather need to have a fair alternative, it said.

Media officials at Germany’s refining industry trade group, Hamburg-based MWV, were not immediately available for additional comment.

However, in a brief statement MWV said in offering the 98 RON fuel at the pumps, oil firms are acting in compliance with their obligations.

The increased market demand for 98 RON gasoline, a fuel that requires greater amounts of octane-boosting ethers, led to increased demand for methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE).

In related news, Shell last week started offering drivers in Germany free insurance against damage from E10.

Meanwhile, in the US, refiners and other groups oppose a federal mandate for 15% ethanol fuel blends (E15).

The groups argue that E15 fuels could damage vehicle engines and other gasoline-powered equipment or systems, such as off-road and construction equipment, marine motors and maintenance gear.

Check out Doris de Guzman’s Green Chemicals Blog for views on sustainability issues

By: Stefan Baumgarten
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