From: NZherald.co.nz - 25/06/2008
The Automobile Association says motorists driving older cars without sophisticated fuel injection systems may be left in the cold by proposed biofuels legislation.
It is disappointed changes to the Biofuel Bill do not include a requirement for oil companies to guarantee continued supplies of non-biofuel petrol and diesel.
Spokesman Mark Stockdale said yesterday the association was pleased a parliamentary select committee had recommended a reduction in the biofuel sales obligation, to 2.5 per cent of all petrol and diesel sold by energy content by 2012.
That is less than the Government's original proposal for a 3.4 per cent mandate, which BP Oil said would have required it to add biofuel to 90 per cent of its petrol and 30 per cent of diesel at an extra cost of about 7c a litre across its business.
But Mr Stockdale said the AA was concerned at the absence from the bill, as reported back to Parliament on Monday, of any requirement for oil companies to offer motorists a choice between biofuel and pure petroleum products.
Although the Ministry of Transport is confident blends of up to 10 per cent biofuel will be suitable for most vehicles, he said Japanese manufacturers would not guarantee the performance of up to a million second-hand imports on New Zealand roads at levels higher than 3 per cent.
The head of the ministry's land transport environment and safety section, David Crawford, said last night that analysis had begun of results from independent tests of the suitability of biofuels for older engines.
These included the same corrosion acceleration agent used in tests by the Japanese manufacturing industry, but with the addition of a corrosion inhibitor, as used in biofuel already supplied to New Zealand motorists by Gull Petroleum.
But Mr Stockdale said "no amount of tests" would change the manufacturers' prerogative to prescribe warranty standards for their vehicles.
The only alternative remedy for motorists running into performance difficulties would be for the Government or the oil companies to indemnify them against any engine damage.
Short of that, they had to be guaranteed a continued supply of non-biofuel petrol and diesel.
A spokeswoman for Energy Minister David Parker said he was confident that if motorists wanted a choice, oil companies would give it to them.
"The minister is relaxed about motorists having a choice of biofuels or non-biofuels," she said.
BP spokeswoman Diana Stretch said her company could not comment on that point until it finishing reviewing how it might meet the newly-proposed biofuels target.
But Mr Stockdale said Mobil Oil was selling petrol with 3 per cent and 10 per cent biofuel at two Wellington service stations where pure petroleum pumps had been removed, meaning motorists had to go elsewhere to exercise a choice.
He said the AA supported moves to introduce biofuel, including "sustainability" standards proposed by the select committee, but did not believe these could be achieved without extra costs to motorists.
That heightened the need to give them a choice.
Although Gull's 10 per cent bioethanol blend of 98-octane petrol is 6c cheaper than the equivalent grade of petroleum protect offered by BP, Mr Stockdale said it was more expensive than the 95-octane it had replaced.
Gull uses bioethanol from dairy industry whey to boost the octane rating of 95-octane petrol to 98.