Germany to fine oil firms if they fail to supply 10% ethanol fuel

13 April 2011 19:36  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS)--Germany will start fining oil firms if they fail to supply sufficient volumes of 10%-bioethanol blended gasoline (E10), the country’s federal transport minister said on Wednesday.

E10, which has been approved for sale at Germany’s pumps since 1 January, is unpopular with many drivers who fear that it could damage the engines of their cars.

Minister Peter Ramsauer said it is up to the oil firms to explain the safety of E10 to drivers.

“I am a good enough market scientist to know that when one introduces a new product it has to be explained" to reassure drivers, Ramsauer said in an interview on German state television.

Ramsauer said Germany has been selling E5 at the pumps for a long time, without any problems.

The increase in Germany’s bioethanol mandate to 10% should not pose any problems, either, given that in Brazil some cars are running on 100% bioethanol, he added.

Ramsauer also said he expects Germany’s competition authorities to closely monitor the oil firms’ pricing policies following the E10 launch.

Last week, a German car drivers’ lobby group said the oil firms, after introducing E10, stopped supplying E5 gasoline with 95 RON (research octane number).

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

Germany’s refining industry trade group, MWV, said its latest market research shows that only about 22% of car drivers choose to fill up with E10.

Drivers are not only worried about engine damage, but also fear that E10 is raising the fuel consumption of their cars. Furthermore, many doubt that E10 is an environmentally responsible fuel, MWV said.

In the interview, the transportation minister also said Germany’s government is opposed to Wednesday’s EU Commission initiative to tax all motor fuels at an equivalent level.

Germany taxes diesel at a lower rate than gasoline. The EU measure could, if implemented, raise taxes for diesel at Germany’s pumps.

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

By: Stefan Baumgarten
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