South Africa eyes cleaner fuels by 2013

10 March 2011

South Africa aims to introduce cleaner fuels by 2013, initially through imports, though local refineries are expected to take turns upgrading their facilities to produce the cleaner fuels, with the last refinery conversion to be complete by 2017.

As per the Clean Fuels Two (CF2) draft fuel specifications and standards, the government aims to limit the levels of benzene – a known carcinogen – in fuel from five percent to one percent, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters told a media briefing in Cape Town this week.

It has also called for the reduction in the allowable levels of other benzene-related components in fuel. The allowable sulphur level in fuel, which is currently 500 parts per million, will be reduced to 10 parts per million.

The proposed fuel standards are the equivalent of the current emissions standard used by the European Union – Euro V.

Imports, refinery upgrades

Cleaner fuels are expected to be made available initially through imports, as the country already imports petroleum products.

“We expect that the refineries will take turns in upgrading refineries to be able to produce cleaner fuels and that the last refinery conversion should be completed by 2017,” Peters said.

The upgrading of refineries would create job opportunities as they would require new components to be fitted. In line with the Industrial Policy Action Plan, Peters expected that “local content in the component manufacturing will also be maximised”.

“This should be seen as an opportunity to create jobs and manufacturing opportunities,” she said. “For the vehicle manufacturers, we would want this to be an opportunity for more advanced engines to be fitted into the vehicle pool of South Africa.”

Reducing cancer risk

Reducing levels of exposure to carcinogens in fuel emissions, Peters said, would reduce the risk of cancer for those who are exposed regularly to it. These include people such as petrol attendants and those who work in refineries.

The reduction is also motivated by the need to “enable more advanced combustion engines into our roads”.

The change will also help the environment, with Peters noting that the transport sector is a contributor to greenhouse gases and global climate change.

SAinfo reporter and BuaNews