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ARCO offers ultra low sulfur diesel in Southern California

16 December 1999

ARCO announced it will be offering ultra low sulfur diesel fuel in Southern California, well in advance of anticipated regulatory requirements. This move is aimed specifically at helping reduce soot emissions from urban municipal fleets in Southern California.

The new diesel fuel will be available immediately, upon request, to operators of urban municipal fleets that have been retrofitted with catalytic exhaust control technology. ARCO's announcement is being made at the time when the California Air Resources Board's (ARB) is in the process of finalizing new emission standards for urban buses in California, which would be more stringent than the current federal requirements.

ARCO's new fuel will have a maximum sulfur content of 15 ppm, while the sulfur content of diesel fuel currently used in California averages at 120 ppm, with a maximum sulfur level of 500 ppm. Other parts of the USA use diesel fuels with an average sulfur content of 340 ppm, and the same maximum cap of 500 ppm.

ARCO noted in its announcement that the low sulfur fuel will enable catalytic exhaust aftertreatment on diesel engines.

The fuel will be manufactured exclusively for Southern California at the ARCO's Los Angeles Refinery (LAR) in Carson.

Earlier this year ARCO announced plans to test its EC-Diesel fuel in California. The EC fuel is characterized by low sulfur content (max. 15 ppm) and a number of other properties, such as high cetane number (min. 57), leading to lower emissions. ARCO chose to introduce the ultra low sulfur diesel, instead of the more advanced EC-Diesel, because it can be produced immediately in sufficient volumes to meet the anticipated demand while still being cost effective.

"ARCO, in supporting CARB's efforts, continues to see diesel as a viable fuel of the future, and is committed to providing a diesel product in Southern California that will enable engine and bus manufacturers to meet the new, very tight emission standards that will likely be set next year," said Roger Truitt, president of ARCO Products Company, the marketing, refining and marine division of ARCO.

ARCO, which supplies about 20% of the state's 220,000-barrel daily production of diesel through its distributors, said it intends to produce and distribute its new fuel at "competitive prices" but have not quoted any specific numbers. The ARB has estimated that it expects low sulfur fuel to cost approximately 5-cents per gallon more than current CARB diesel.

ARCO said it will continue making CARB diesel fuel available for the more than 700,000 diesel-powered vehicles on the road in California which would not benefit from use of low sulfur fuel because they are not equipped with catalytic exhaust after-treatment devices.

Retrofitting of existing diesel fleets with catalytic emission controls would cost dramatically less than purchasing new equipment or engines that run on alternative fuels. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority's (MTA) head of transit operations, Tom Conner said: "The MTA is interested in testing ARCO's new diesel fuel so that we can report to our Board whether it will further our efforts to reduce emissions from transit vehicles ... as the agency prepares to replace the remainder of its fleet with new, low emission buses, it is interested in evaluating cost effective alternatives."

Source: ARCO