Think before you decide

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Think before you decide

Think before you decide

Adding alcohol to gasoline being a good or bad thing has been a subject of debate for approximately 10 years. The main stumbling point is generally believed to be the lack of consensus between alcohol and oil industry representatives.

The latter, according to their opponents, stubbornly refuse to invest in upgrades for their refineries, oil depots, and gas stations and thus are hampering the adoption of legislation on increasing the percentage of bioethanol in fuel.

I would like to stress right away that we don’t oppose addition bioethanol as it is!

Just as we are not against heating houses with wood pellets or burning sawdust and bark briquettes at heating plants.

Ukrainian Oil&Gas Association members are modern, responsible, and civilized companies. The high cost of energy resources and their deficit forces all reasonable people to look for alternative energy sources. The current environmental situation also calls for more responsible solutions to environmental problems.

But we must understand that ethanol is an additive rather than an alternative to oil. A certain percentage of biocomponents in gasoline or diesel fuel doesn’t make it cheaper or reduces carbon dioxide emissions. It leads to an increase in emissions of nitrogen oxides and aldehydes. Therefore, it is too hasty to talk about such mixtures being 100% safe for the environment.

We carefully study the European experience of gradually increasing of bioethanol in fuel and consult with our Polish, Slovak, Czech, Hungarian, and Bulgarian colleagues, considering that in their countries have recently gone the way Ukraine is currently moving.

Indeed, Directive 2009/28/EC sets the use of 10% of biocomponents for vehicles in all regions of the European Union by 2020. But it also provides for the gradual preparation of the fleet for such innovations; a list has been carefully drawn up of the cars that cannot be refueled with the fuel having an alcohol content of over 5% due to its negative impact on unaltered engines. The Europeans are approaching this decision-making in a balanced way. We also need to consider risks and adverse consequences. As they say, it is not making a decision that is difficult but surviving its consequences. According to DerzhavtotransNDIproject, 60% of Ukrainian car fleet is not adapted to high-ethanol fuel. For such vehicles, the use of this fuel can lead to fuel system clogging and corrosion of internal components of the vehicle.

There is another serious issue. No clear system of control over the manufacture of such petroleum products exists in our country. After the adoption of the bill, counterfeit fuel may flood the market—it will be sold under the guise of biofuel at gas stations.

What do we get as a result? Unfair competition and another incentive the shadow market to develop. Unscheduled car repairs will become more frequent. One should not forget, either, that bad fuel can lead to road accidents. That is why the Association insists on developing clear legislative procedures on the who, the when, and the how of the final product quality control. We suggest assigning responsibility for the quality of bioethanol fuel to both domestic and foreign manufacturers of petroleum products. Like in the EU, the control functions can be performed by the SFS with the help of the electronic system measuring retail sales of the fuel. This system will help compare volumes of the produced, imported, and sold bioethanol-added fuel and detect unscrupulous operators in the event of counterfeiting.

For the same reason, we have insisted on postponing the introduction of the mandatory addition of at least 5% bioethanol to all types of fuel. It is necessary to remember that according to the previous version of the draft law, the share of obligatory bio-additives in gasoline should have increased to 7% in 2016. We believe that Ukraine does not yet have the necessary organizational, production and technical pre-requisites for such moves. Therefore, we keep sticking to our point of view.

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