Germany refiners reiterate commitment to E10, but sales remain low

16 September 2011 16:37  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Germany’s refiners remain committed to offering 10%-bioethanol blended gasoline (E10) throughout the country even though sales remain low, an industry trade group said on Friday.

Hamburg-based Mineralolwirtschaftsverband (MWV) said that E10 currently accounts for only about 10% of Germany's overall gasoline market.

Even though more than 90% of cars on Germany’s roads can run on E10, so far only 3m drivers use it on a regular basis, the group said.

However, MMW president Klaus Picard said those 3m cars are evidence that E10 can be used without any problems for car engines - contrary to the fears of many drivers.

“I am confident that as drivers continue to have positive experience [with E10], E10 sales will continue to increase,” he said.

But Picard said that at current E10 sales rates, refiners will “certainly miss” the legally prescribed biofuel quotas this year.

Germany has approved E10 for sale at the pump since 1 January, but the fuel turned out to be unpopular as many drivers feared it may damage the engines of their cars.

Refiners launched E10 because it enables them to comply with EU fuel quality standards and quotas. If they fail to comply, they face penalties.

MWV’s Picard said refiners expect to offset this year’s penalties against credits from last year when the industry exceeded its respective quotas. This “over-fulfilment” will automatically be taken into account in determining the extent of this year’s quota deficit, he said.

Last month, an industry executive had said refiners could be facing penalties of up to €400m ($556m), which they would seek to pass on to drivers.

Picard said that regardless of offsets from last year, fulfilling the biofuel quota will cost society and drivers money.

“When politicians call for carbon dioxide (CO2) savings to be reached via biofuels, then they should also have the courage to tell drivers and the public that climate protection will not be for free,” he said.

Meanwhile, refiners will continue promoting E10’s market acceptance and they will also look at other options to help them comply with the quotas, and thus avoid penalties, Picard said.

Such options could include the promotion of pure biodiesel (B100) or plant oils for use in trucks, as well as opportunities in the biogas sector, Picard said without disclosing details.

($1 = €0.72)

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

By: Stefan Baumgarten
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