20 August 1999

The European Union is facing drastic revision of standards on petrol and diesel fuels. In December, 1998, the European Commission published a new Directive 98/70/EC with far-reaching consequences concerning the environmental requirements for petrol and diesel fuel, which pave the way for the future regulation of emissions for the motor industry in Europe. To implement the environmental requirements, standards on petrol and diesel fuels have to be changed significantly. These changes will require an investment of billions of dollars for both the oil and automotive industries.

Which standards are affected? "It is all about two standards that specify the composition, requirements and test methods for petrol and diesel fuels. These standards, EN 228 and EN 590, which were adopted in 1993, lead to a comparable composition of petrol and diesel all over Europe. In the new EU-Directive, very stringent requirements are specified, for example, sulfur content and aromatics content", said Margriet Dijkhuis, Standardization Consultant at Netherlands Standardization Institute (NNI) and Secretary of CEN/TC 19, the European Technical Committee responsible for the revision of both fuel standards.

Two Working Groups, one for petrol and one for diesel have been preparing draft revisions of the standards to bring them in line with the Directive. "There was enormous pressure. Normally, it takes years before revisions of standards are agreed. Now we had only six months, because the Directive was published in 1998 and the EU-members want to link the standards to their legislation in the summer of 1999", said Carel Stapel, Product Quality Advisor at Esso Benelux and Chairman of CEN/TC 19.

The two major parties involved within the standardization process are the oil and the automotive industries. According to Stapel there has been a great deal of negotiation between the two groups. The final agreements were reached on March 17th in Brussels and the official draft standards are already published.

CEN/TC 19 Symposium. The revisions of EN 228 and EN 590 are one of the main topics on the CEN/TC 19 Automotive Fuels Millennium Symposium, November 25 - 26, in Amsterdam. This symposium will cover current and future developments on automotive fuel quality in Europe with emphasis on the anticipated EC Fuels Directive 2005, European fuel quality monitoring system, specifications for petrol, diesel and LPG as well as specifications for "biofuel". Information on the symposium is available from the CEN/TC 19 secretariat, Ms. M.E. Dijkhuis/Ms. K.P.M. Romeyn, tel. +3115 2 690 323, e-mail: karin.romeyn@nni.nl, or on the web at http://www.nni.nl/aktueel/sympfuels.html.

Source: Netherlands Standardization Institute (NNI)