The press and getting it almost partly right about biofuels

The British press (of which I am a fully paid up member) is not right about everything all of the time, but its not usually completely off the beam either.

So when they report that drivers in the South East of England are having problems with fuel they bought from Tesco and Morrisons because of ethanol contamination I take an interest.

What the National Press hasn’t quite grasped is that some petrol from sold as 99 Octane gas on these supermarkets’ forecourts, contains  up to 5% ethanol anyway, and may contain a whole raft of other oxygenates. This is pretty typical of people who work in highly pressured environments to tight deadlines… try it yourself.

What the biofuel industry needs to be doing in the coming weeks and months is devising and implementing a public relations strategy to reassure consumers and sell them the benefits of using biofuels over conventional  gasoline.

This is supplied to Tesco and Morrisons by Greenergy which said in a statement yesterday:

Greenergy is aware of the reports from drivers who are experiencing problems after filling up with fuel in the South East of England. We take quality very seriously and we are doing everything we possibly can to find out what the issue is and whether it is related to us. Over the last 3 years we have sold more than 8 billion liters of fuel into the UK market and have not had any problems. So far we have conducted extensive tests on the fuel supplied to Tesco and Morrisons. We have found it is fully compliant with BSEN 228 – the independent standard everyone works to. We are continuing our investigation and will update you as soon as we

have more information.

Obvious questions to ask are: was the gas contaminated with something else, where did this contamination happen and ultimately who’s liable for the engine damage.

I’ll be watching for developments

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2 Responses to The press and getting it almost partly right about biofuels

  1. ziz 1 March, 2007 at 4:15 pm #

    Look here.

    Greenergy got ethanol till this month from Brazil , new supplier Wissington (norfolk) Du Pont/ Brit Sugar came on stream.

  2. Mark C R UK 2 March, 2007 at 9:09 pm #

    It’s a silicone problem…

    Anyway – to preempt PR damage there needs to be transparancy on reviewing:

    - Who’s doing what? Explain to the public who is doing what as the systems in place, as supplies to the supermarkets are so murky the public is quite prepared to start pointing fingers anywhere – for lack of a better target. “Infant-Biofuel” manufacturer organisations face taking the blame (at a time we’re encouraging their development). When this is more likely further downstream problem – within the fuel blending process… prior to tankering.
    (i.e. outside of their control more often than not. If the cause is attributable to one of these organisations also doing the blending, then the supermarkets are obligated to support reviewing the below).

    “Quality Control (QC)” – are corners being cut in QC by the supermarkets – for fuel quality compared with the “branded-petrochems”?

    Obviously QC was a fault here in some way… Transparent reviewing of this – will put the public at ease. Maybe inviting the public in via the news channels into the QC labs.

    My final point – the public won’t accept “one individual academic opinion”. Get two respected individuals to together do a review of this.

    I would then bet the bad PR would be allieviated, as two names together would give more weight than one “random” spokesperson – whom the public don’t recognise.

    Anyway – they are some of my humble thoughts on this.



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