JAMA and AAF Fuel Experts Talked to the Oil Industry in Southeast Asia about Improving Fuel Standards

The ASEAN Automotive Federation Technical Committee 3 (AAF/TC3) Meeting, an auto-industry forum on harmonization of technical regulations in the Southeast Asia region, was held in Singapore this March. During the meeting, the committee reiterated its advice to members on recommending the AAF Fuel Specs to their respective authorities and stakeholders. The AAF Fuel Specs, which is a result of joint collaboration and studies between the AAF/TC3 and JAMA members, includes specifications for conventional gasoline and diesel fuel that correspond to Euro 4 Emission Regulations, and also bio-fuels such as the biodiesel and ethanol before blending.
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At this juncture, as most of the ASEAN countries will be adopting Euro 4 emission regulations between 2012 and 2016, the adoption of the corresponding Euro 4 fuel specifications that ensure the proper functioning of the Euro 4 vehicles, low emission and safety is of utmost importance. Unfortunately, since the establishment of the AAF Euro 4 Fuel Specifications a couple of years back, no country in ASEAN has adopted this recommendation yet. This explains why the AAF/TC3 was compelled to remind its members once again to advocate the adoption of the appropriate Euro 4 fuel specifications to their respective countries' authorities and concerned parties.
During the same meeting, however, some AAF/TC3 members, notably the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines (CAMPI) and Malaysia Automotive Association (MAA), who encountered most obstacles when promoting the AAF Fuel Specs, explained that they have been recommending the specifications to their authorities and stakeholders but have encountered some problems in their course of action. Among which, the technical debate on the fuel property items and their limit values of the fuel specifications is the common contributing factor that slowed down adoption. Apparently, the oil industry and auto industry hold different views with regards to the required fuel properties for Euro 4 fuels, but the biggest problems of all is the lack of communication between fuels experts of the two industries.
To resolve this issue, both CAMPI and MAA decided to call upon JAMA fuel experts to hold a dialogue session together with the oil industry and concerned authorities this June and July respectively. The following paragraphs provide a brief outcome of the two missions participated by JAMA fuels expert.

The Philippines

Together with CAMPI, JAMA fuel experts attended a meeting with the Technical Committee on Petroleum Products and Additives (TCPPA) in June. The TCPPA is a committee chaired by the Department of Energy (DOE) and co-chaired by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The representatives from the academic society, oil industry, auto industry, and NGOs also attended the TCPPA Meeting.
During the TCPPA Meeting, fuel experts of each sector deliberated the parameters under the AAF Euro 4 Fuel Specifications and exchanged opinions. The "effects of distillation temperature of gasoline on exhaust emissions" and "diesel fuel properties on PM emission" among others were discussed. Most of the oil industry representatives expressed concern over potential cost-up of fuels should the oil products be made to comply with all the parameters in the AAF Euro 4 Fuels Specifications. CAMPI and JAMA fuel experts however requested the oil industry representatives to reconsider as the recommended parameters are necessary for the production of adequate Euro 4 fuels for the vehicles.
At the same time, JAMA fuel experts presented voluntary survey results of a sampling test on market fuel quality conducted by JAMA members. As the results show that most of the properties have already met the AAF Euro 4 Fuel Specifications criterion even at this instance, the auto industry argued that the anticipated cost-up may not be as severe as expected. In support of the auto industry views, a representative from the Clean Air Initiatives for Asian Cities (CAAI) commented that it is time for the regulations to catch up with the actual conditions of the market.
Although some differences in technical opinions between the auto industry and oil industry remained unresolved, the oil companies agreed to review the AAF Euro 4 Fuels Specifications and revert to the TCPPA.


Following the Philippines, JAMA fuel experts, along with MAA, conducted a dialogue meeting with SIRIM Technical Committee on Petroleum Fuels and the Oil Industry Technical Committee (OITC) this July in Kuala Lumpur.

The OITC is an independent technical committee that consists of fuel experts from the oil industry. The OITC, along with MAA and other concerned authorities, has also been contributing its inputs to SIRIM Technical Committee in developing fuel standards. SIRIM is incorporated under the Ministry of Finance of Malaysia, the only authorized body under the Department of Standard Authority to develop its National Standards, the Malaysian Standards (MS).
Currently, the MS for Euro 4 fuels have already been developed. Although, the MS is implemented on a voluntary basis, it may be regulated as mandatory if deemed necessary by concerned authorities. For instance, in May this year, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the government of Malaysia has agreed to mandate five parameters from the MS for Euro 4 fuels.

In the meetings with both SIRIM Technical Committee and OITC, JAMA fuel experts highlighted the importance of regulating Olefins, Aromatics and the other property items besides Sulfur of the AAF Fuel Specifications that have not yet been regulated under the MS or Euro 4M (Malaysian version of Euro 4 fuel specifications). Similar to the voluntary survey results reported by JAMA in the Philippines, the survey results of the Malaysian market fuel quality show that the properties of
the collected samples are already very close to the AAF Euro 4 Fuel Specifications criterion. On grounds of this survey results, JAMA fuel experts argued that it should not be too difficult for Malaysia to regulate the other property items, besides Sulfur, in addition to the five that have been agreed by the Ministry and concerned stakeholders. However, there are still financial concerns by both the SIRIM Technical Committee and OITC. According to a fuel expert from OITC, fuel price in Malaysia is a very sensitive issue and its influence can be pervasive even by just regulating one additional parameter from the current Euro 4M fuel specifications.

Nevertheless, both the Chairman of OITC and SIRIM Technical Committee expressed that they will continue to look into the ways to improve its national fuel standards. As the Chairman of OITC summed up the discussion, "We agree that this is not the end point."


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