As climate change and environmental degradation mitigation become increasingly entrenched in global commercial and political discourse, one of the greatest challenges confronting the global petroleum industry currently is the need to combat its impact on the environment by reducing harmful emissions.
To date, the global petroleum industry has largely succeeded in contributing to the quest to reduce harmful emissions by improving fuel quality standards and reducing the sulphur content of both petrol and diesel products – sulphur is the chemical largely responsible for high vehicle emissions that cause air pollution.
South Africa is one of the very few countries in the world that are bucking this global drive to improve fuel quality standards, with local fuel producers continuing to produce some of the ‘dirtiest’ fuel in the world. South Africa is currently ranked seventy-eighth in the world by the International Fuel Quality Centre, based on the benzene and sulphur limit in petrol.
South African oil refiners produce petrol and diesel based on the dated Euro II fuel specifications, which have a high sulphur content of 500 ppm, while 50-ppm diesel is only available in some parts of the country. Consequently, South African fuel producers, which include Sasol, PetroSA, Engen, Shell, BP, Total and Chevron, are coming under increasing pressure to embrace the global trend towards cleaner road transport fuel production.
South African Petroleum Industry Association (Sapia) stimulates that the South African fuel marketing industry, which is essentially represented by Sapia, is positively committed to progressing towards the development of cleaner, low-sulphur fuels.
Newly appointed Energy Minister Dipuo Peters seems determined to effect change in the South African fuel sector by engaging stakeholders on the clean-fuel debate and implementing new fuel specification legislation.
The whole world is moving towards cleaner fuels and South Africa is 100% supporting this movement.