New Zealand updates fuel standards to support growth of lower-emission fuels

New Zealand Energy and Resources Minister Judith Collins announced noteworthy changes to New Zealand’s petrol and diesel specifications on 22 August 2017. The amendments to Engine Fuel Specifications Regulations 2011, which sets out minimum standards for fuel performance and minimising harmful components, are designed to “support the growth of lower-emission fuels that are better for people, the environment and cars,” says Collins. The new regulations are the product of a two-year development process following the release of a public discussion document in September 2015.

Updates to New Zealand’s fuel standards encompass four significant components: raising New Zealand’s limit for methanol in petrol from 1% to 3% volume; increasing the biodiesel blend limit in diesel from 5% to 7%; introducing a total oxygen limit; and reducing the sulphur level allowed in petrol from 50 to 10 parts per million (ppm). Several minor technical changes accompany these amendments, to reflect technology enhancements and improve the clarity of the specifications.

The introduction of a total oxygen limit, increasing the biodiesel blend limit and raising the methanol blend limit is expected to increase demand for biofuels, and potentially allow more flexibility in fuel mixes and enhance the security of local supply. Reducing the sulphur level in petrol is “specifically targeted to reduce harmful emissions, which will have health and environmental benefits,” says Collins, and will align New Zealand with increasingly stringent fuel standards throughout Europe, Japan and the United States.

Three of the four amendments are scheduled to take effect on 2 October 2017, though the lower limits for sulphur content in fuels won’t apply until 1 July 2018.