The Australian fuel industry is required to comply with a wide range of national and State/Territory Regulations governing the loading of tankers, the transport of fuels, the storage of fuels and the dispensing of fuels. These regulations come on top of a requirement, like all Australian businesses, to comply with employment, safety, environment, national competition and consumer laws.

One of the consumer laws that has come into focus in recent times relates to the regulation governing the measurement of fuels dispensed on the service station forecourt. In late 2018, the Regulator responsible for ensuring that motorists are getting the volume of fuel that they are paying for at the pump – the National Measurement Institute (NMI) – advised that the number of non-compliant pumps had doubled from two years prior.

A subsequent regulatory blitz in Easter 2019, and enforcement actions conducted throughout the 2019 calendar year, revealed that the 2018 result was not simply a ‘blip’ but had been continued in the subsequent 12-months.

“At one level, we are talking about a relatively small number of non-compliant pumps across the national network with the detected breaches by NMI increasing from 2.6% a few years ago, to more than 4.8% of investigations conducted during 2018 and 2019 – suggesting that 95% of pumps remain compliant with the regulatory requirement of +/- 0.3%”, said ACAPMA CEO Mark McKenzie.

“But at another level, motorists must be able to have confidence in the fact that the fuel that they are pumping into their tanks, which they cannot physically see or measure for themselves, is being dispensed accurately into their vehicles – or the entire reputation of the fuel industry is put at risk”, added Mark

ACAPMA has been liaising with NMI over the past 18 months in an attempt to better understand the issue. These discussions have focussed on whether this problem is due to ageing infrastructure, a change of industry practice, problems associated with new equipment, or problems associated with calibration and certification processes.

This process has been hampered by the inability of the NMI to share their knowledge of the current problems due to necessary privacy considerations designed to protect the commercial interests of industry participants.

“That said, this is an issue that our industry needs to understand and respond to in order to maintain trust with the wider community that fuel volumes being sold at our service stations are accurate”, said Mark

While many fuel companies have instituted internal practices for regular pump calibration and verification our fuel industry does not have an industry wide practice for same – but such a Guideline would likely provide increased consumer confidence in the wake of the NMI findings of recent years.

WORKSHOP

To that end, ACAPMA is partnering with NMI to conduct an industry workshop to discuss this issue. The key objective of this workshop will be to better understand the issue and explore opportunities for resolution of this issue. The workshop will comprise two parts.

Workshop participants will first receive an update from senior representatives from NMI about their recent compliance findings and the nature of the issue as they currently see it – albeit within the constraints of privacy provisions.

The second part will comprise a roundtable conversation about current industry practices and the merits (or otherwise) of developing an industry best practice guideline for the periodic calibration and verification of petrol pumps in Australia.

The workshop will be held at the Intercontinental Hotel (The Rialto) in Melbourne on Thursday 5 March 2020.

AGENDA

8.30am            Tea/Coffee available on arrival

9.00am            Welcome and Introductions (Mark McKenzie, ACAPMA)

9.30am            The current issue – Presentation (Bill Loizides & Malcolm Bartlett of NMI)

  • Apparent increase in non-compliance
  • Key enforcement and compliance observations (by geographic region and brand clusters)
  • Current international practice in respect of regular bowser calibration
  • NMI’s FY20 Enforcement plan and key activities
  • Audience Q&A

10.15am          Possible industry responses – Roundtable (Mark McKenzie, ACAPMA)

  • Opportunity for industry ‘Best Practice’ guideline
  • Nature and Structure of industry Best Practice Guideline
  • Other relevant considerations

11.45am          Wrap-up and next steps

12.00pm          Networking lunch

12.45pm          Workshop Close

REGISTER TO ATTEND

Attendance at this workshop are free with the costs to be funded by ACAPMA. For catering purposes, however, participants must register for attendance.

To register for this event please send an email to sarahh@acapma.com.au before COB on Friday 28 February 2020.

Further information on this event can be obtained by contacting ACAPMA’s Marketing and Events Manager, Sarah Haughey, on 1300 160 270.