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Sinopec to Lift Fuel Standards Ahead of Schedule
Summary:One of China's dominant fuel retailers brings forward the introduction of cleaner fuel standard. The amount of sulfur permitted in fuel will be cut significantly.

August 29, 2013
Translated by Pang Lei

Sinopec, one of China's three state-owned oil giants, yesterday announced that it will start providing fuel that meets China's "National IV" fuel standard from Oct 1, three months earlier than planned.

In addition, the company says that it will start supplying "National V" standard fuel to 14 cities, including Shanghai and Nanjing on the same date.

Throughout most of mainlaind China the government currently requires gas stations to supply a minimum "National III" standard of fuel.

A new "National IV" standard was established in 2011, but oil refiners and car manufacturers were given until Jan 1, 2014 to prepare for its formal introduction.

One of the important differences between the two standards is the amount of sulfur permitted in the fuel.

According to the current "National III" standard, the amount of sulfur must be less than 150 parts per million (ppm), the "National IV" standards require that there be less than 50 ppm.

Authorities are currently in the process of negotiating a new "National V" fuel standard that is set to be introduced nationwide before the end of 2017.

According to a draft of the proposed standard that has been published by the government, the amount of sulfur permitted in regular gasoline will be further reduced to 10 ppm.

According to Cao Xiang (曹湘), director of the National Petroleum Products and Lubricants Standardization Technical Committee (全国石油产品和润滑剂标准化技术委员会), the new standard will also ban the presence of manganese in fuel.

After introducing new standards that limit the amount of sulfur in fuel to 10 ppm in May 2012, Beijing currently has the strictest fuel standards of any Chinese city.

Lin Boqiang (林伯强), a professort from Xiamen University's Resources Research Center, told the Beijing News that vehicle emissions are one of the chief causes of air pollution in Chinese cities.

Lin said that the aim of improving the fuel standards was to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions but he also said that in order see just how much of an effect this will have on air pollution, we will have to examine the situation in individual cities.

Earlier this year China also upgraded diesel standards,  lifting the minimum quality of diesel that could be sold across the country to "National III" standard (国三标准), the equivalent of Euro III standards.

Diesel sold by the two state-owned oil giants to most provinces in the country already met the new national standard, but some regions in the northwest and southwest of the country were still being supplied with lower quality diesel. Much of this diesel was used in industry, infrastructure, mining and thermal power generation.

The sulphur content of "National III" standard diesel cannot exceed 350 ppm.

Diesel sold in Beijing and Shanghai already meets the "National VI" standard and "National V" standard respectively.  

Links and Sources
Beijing News: 中石化10月起全国换国四汽油
Sinopec: 中国石化提前启动置换国4汽油
Economic Observer Online: Agreement on New Fuel Quality Standards
Economic Observer Online: New National Fuel Standard Kicks In
TransportPolicy.net: China: Fuels: Diesel and Gasoline

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