Sweden already has lower sulphur petrol than most other EU countries. Class-2 petrol, introduced in 1994, contains 100ppm sulphur, which is one third lower than the EU-wide limit for 2000 provisionally agreed by environment ministers last June (ENDS Daily 20 June 1997).
Only in Finland and Germany is petrol with a lower sulphur content (about 60ppm) available. And these currently serve a minority of their domestic markets, whereas all petrol sold in Sweden is class-2. In addition, virtually all diesel sold in Sweden contains just 10ppm sulphur.
The move throws further uncertainty over the final outcome of the draft EU fuel quality directive, which currently contains a 2000 limit of 150ppm sulphur in petrol. The European Parliament is likely to call for this to be reduced next month when it holds its second reading of the proposal (ENDS Daily 25 November 1997).
Rolf Annerberg, head of the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, has welcomed the oil industry's commitment to introduce lower sulphur petrol. "Thanks to the change to environmental class-1 petrol," he said, "conditions for introducing more economical engines are improved. The voluntary undertaking by the oil companies is paving the way for lower fuel consumption, thereby reducing carbon dioxide emissions."
The Swedish oil industry is equally happy with the agreement, according to Tommy Nordin, managing director of the SPI. "We are the country hit hardest by sulphur emissions and acidification," he told ENDS Daily today. "Oil companies, consumers and politicians are all of the same opinion that we must do our utmost to stop the problem."
Mr Nordin expects that introducing 50ppm sulphur petrol could enable the introduction of 20% more fuel efficient direct injection car engines. Indeed, the extra costs incurred in producing class-1 petrol might not have been worth bearing had there not been this second environmental benefit, he told ENDS Daily.
The SPI is still discussing with the government how the costs of switching to the new fuel will be met. A direct price increase for consumers is possible.
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