Josh Dutton, 09 November 2015

SOME Queensland petrol station owners could have to fork out almost $1 million upgrading their bowsers to comply with the State Government’s biofuel mandate.

The Palaszczuk government wants to create a $1.8 billion biofuel industry and announced in April that it wanted 20 per cent of the fuel sold in Queensland to be biofuel from July 2016.

Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association chief executive Mark McKenzie said the push for more service stations to stock ethanol-blended fuel was going to cost the industry.

“About two thirds of service stations are privately-owned, family businesses,” Mr McKenzie said.

“Our principal concern is the adjustments these businesses will have to make to their bowsers and underground infrastructure.

“Ethanol is a corrosive liquid and water attractor — to upgrade tanks some businesses are looking at as little as $25-30,000 and as high as $900,000.”

Mr McKenzie called on the State Government to provide support for upgrades and not to “pick a fight with the fuel industry.”

RACQ executive manager of public policy Michael Roth said the motoring body supported a mandate but regional retailers could struggle with the conversion in a higher mandate is introduced.

“We think the Queensland Government has done very well with the policy but if they were going to go any further it could be to the detriment of motorists,” Mr Roth said.

“In say, Western Queensland, most service stations are older and simply won’t be able to convert older pumps and pipes to take on more corrosive fuel.”

14% OF VEHICLES CAN’T USE E10

Mr Roth said the other concern was compatibility with vehicles.

“About 14 per cent of the Queensland fleet can’t use E10 — however, that is set to drop in the next few years,” he said.

While some Queensland vehicles may be ill-equipped to handle the change, Bio Energy Australia manager Dr Stephen Schuck said the State Government had previously equipped around 550 service stations to sell the fuel in the past.

“All of petroleum products have corrosive properties, not just ethanol,” Dr Schuck said. “For this reason, fuel suppliers are required to add corrosion inhibitors not only to ethanol-blended fuels but also to other petroleum products.

“This issue is not specific to ethanol blended fuels, but to all fuels.

“As such many of these ‘upgrades’ have already been done at government expense.”

North Queensland Bio Energy chairman Robert Carey said it was important the legislation was not misunderstood and standardised.

“Everybody will be different depending on how many pumps they have existing on site,” he said.

“There’s no doubt it my mind Australia needs a renewable biofuels industry — a starting point.

“With incremental increases, that will allow growth and maturity along with certainty in investment.”

The Courier-Mail contacted a number of regional service stations but they all declined to comment.

Extracted in full from the Courier Mail.