Petrol fuel quality standard

Environmental Standards

The first suite of national fuel standards, which came into force on 1 January 2002, regulates petrol parameters that have a direct impact on the environment ('environmental standards').

The standards have been implemented to reduce the amount of toxic pollutants in vehicle emissions, such as benzene and particulates, with studies estimating reductions of up to 50 per cent for some pollutants over 20 years. This is great news for our health, with cleaner air helping to reduce the number of serious respiratory illnesses and asthma cases, particularly in children.

A national fuel grade standard for ethanol that can be blended with petrol up to a maximum level of ten per cent was introduced on 28 June 2008.

Operability Standards

A second suite of national fuel standards came into force on 16 October 2002. These standards ('operability standards') address those parameters of petrol that do not have a direct impact on emissions but, if not controlled, can have adverse impacts on the efficient operation of the engine.

Summary table

The environmental and operability standards are consolidated in the following tables. The legal instrument implementing the petrol standard is:

Petrol standards
Parameter National standard Grade Date of effect Test method
Sulfur 500 ppm (max) ULP/LRP 1-Jan-02 ASTM D5453
150 ppm (max) PULP  
150 ppm (max) All grades 1-Jan-05
50 ppm (max) PULP 1-Jan-08
Research octane number (RON) 91.0 RON (min) ULP 1-Jan-02 ASTM D2699
95.0 RON (min) PULP
96.0 RON (min) LRP
Distillation Final boiling point 210°C (max) All grades 1-Jan-05 Not specified
Olefins 18% pool average over 6 months with a cap of 20% All grades 1-Jan-04 ASTM D1319
18% max by vol All grades 1-Jan-05
Aromatics 45% pool average over 6 months with a cap of 48% All grades 1-Jan-02 ASTM D1319
42% pool average over 6 months with a cap of 45% 1-Jan-05
Benzene 1% max by vol All grades 1-Jan-06 ASTM D5580
Lead 0.005 g/L (max) All grades 1-Jan-02 ASTM D3237
Oxygen 2.7% m/m (max) All grades
(no ethanol)
1-Jan-02 ASTM D4815
3.9% m/m (max) All grades
(with ethanol)
Ethanol 10% v/v (max) All grades 1-Jul-03 ASTM D4815
Phosphorus 0.0013 g/L (max) ULP, PULP 1-Jan-02 ASTM D3231
(Methyl tertiary butyl ether)
1% by volume (max) All grades 1-Jan-04 ASTM D4815
(Di-isopropyl ether)
1% by volume (max) All grades 1-Jan-02 ASTM D4815
(Tertiary butyl alcohol)
0.5% by volume (max) All grades 1-Jan-02 ASTM D4815
Motor Octane Number (MON) 85.0 (min) PULP 16-Oct-02 ASTM D2700
81.0 (min) ULP 16-Oct-02
82.0 (min) LRP 16-Oct-02
Copper Corrosion
(3 hrs @ 50ºC)
Class 1 (max) All grades 16-Oct-02 ASTM D130
Existent Gum (washed) 50 mg/L (max) All grades 16-Oct-02 ASTM D381
Induction Period 360 minutes (min) All grades 16-Oct-02 ASTM D525

The additives Ethyl tertiary-butyl ether (ETBE), Tertiary amyl methyl ether (TAME) and Ethyl tertiary amyl ether (ETAE) are not included in the standard. In accordance with the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act 1989 all industrial chemicals, including ETBE, TAME and ETAE imported into or manufactured in Australia are required to be listed on the Australian Inventory of Chemical Substances (AICS). Potential importers or manufacturers of these chemicals should contact the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) for further information.

* Standard for ethanol (up to ten per cent ethanol blended with petrol)

Ethanol standard
Parameter Specification Date of effect Test Method
Acidity (as acetic acid CH3COOH) 0.007% mass by mass 28 June 08 ASTM D1613

Ethanol must be clear and bright and visibly free of suspended or precipitated contaminants

28 June 08 ASTM D4806
Copper 0.1 mg/kg 28 June 08 ASTM D1688A (as modified in ASTM D4806)

Denaturant must be no less than 1% volume by volume and no more than 1.5% volume by volume

28 June 08 ASTM D5501
Ethanol Ethanol content must not be less than 95.6% volume by volume 28 June 08 ASTM D5501
Inorganic Chloride 32 mg/L 28 June 08 ASTM D512C (as modified in ASTM D4806)
Methanol 0.5% volume by volume 28 June 08 ASTM D5501
pHe pHe value must be no less than 6.5 and no more than 9.0 28 June 08 ASTM D6423
Solvent washed gum 5.0 mg/100 ml 28 June 08 ASTM D381
Sulfate 4 mg/kg 28 June 08 ASTM D4806 Annex 1
Sulfur 30 mg/kg 28 June 08 ASTM D5453
Water 1.0% volume by volume 28 June 08 ASTM E203

National phase out of leaded petrol

On 15 March 2000, the Australian Government announced a phase-out of leaded petrol in Australia under the National Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000. On 1 January 2002, that phase-out was completed. The sale of leaded petrol in Australia is now prohibited, except in cases specifically authorised by the Minister.


The information contained on this page is of a general nature only and should be read in conjunction with the Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000, Fuel Quality Standards Regulations 2001 and the Fuel Standard (Petrol) Determination 2001. Fuel suppliers may wish to seek legal advice about their obligations under this legislation.