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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

18 August 2004

Mobil upgrades refinery to meet new fuel standards


The Minister for the Environment and Heritage Senator Ian Campbell today welcomed the news that Mobil Oil Australia Pty Ltd will significantly upgrade its Altona refinery to meet future national standards for cleaner petrol and diesel fuels.

"This major upgrade of the Altona refinery will enable Mobil to meet the Australian Governments tough new fuel quality standards that help make Australia's fuels among the cleanest in the world," said Senator Campbell.

"Under the Fuel Quality Standards, by 2020 the amount of sulfur entering our atmosphere will be reduced by approximately 360 000 tonnes, or 160 Olympic swimming pools."

Mobil's decision follows new fuel standards announced by Senator Campbell in July that will see sulfur in premium unleaded petrol reduced from 150 parts per million (ppm) currently to 50ppm from 1 January 2008, and sulfur in diesel capped at 10ppm from 1 January 2009. This builds on earlier announcements to reduce sulfur in unleaded and lead-replacement petrol from the current 500ppm to 150ppm from 1 January 2005, and reduce sulfur in diesel from 500ppm currently to 50ppm on 1 January 2006.

"The Australian Government has led the way in introducing national fuel quality standards to dramatically reduce urban air pollution. These standards have made, and will continue to make, a significant contribution to improved environment and health outcomes.

"Lower sulfur will mean much better air quality in Australia's cities and towns and help the two million asthmatics and countless other Australians who suffer from breathing problems. By 2020, cleaner fuel initiatives taken by this Government will have saved $3.4 billion in hospital and medical costs.

"The reductions in sulfur levels will have an immediate impact on particle emissions from the existing vehicle fleet as well as hasten the introduction of the next generation of cleaner vehicle engines and emission controls," Senator Campbell said.

The tougher fuel quality standards are the latest achievement in mandating cleaner fuels, and follow the establishment of the Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000 and the banning of leaded petrol from January 2002.

"By setting the fuel quality standards with a long lead-time, the Government has provided certainty to the Australian petroleum refining and motor vehicle industries in their future investment strategies. In May last year, the Government also announced incentives to help refiners and importers offset the increased cost of producing cleaner fuels and making lower sulfur fuel available more quickly. These incentives will be provided for a two-year period prior to commencement of the fuel standards.

"I commend Mobil for its decision to invest in technology that will improve our air quality."

For more information on fuel quality standards, visit www.deh.gov.au/atmosphere/cleaner-fuels/index.html

Commonwealth of Australia