INDEPENDENT NEWS

Shell’s Diesel Arguments Ring Hollow

Published: Fri 8 Jun 2001 11:35 AM
ARC Chairman Phil Warren says Shell New Zealand’s arguments against the introduction of cleaner diesel in Auckland are hollow and an insult to the intelligence of the region’s people.
The four major oil companies and the New Zealand Refinery Company say sulphur levels could drop more than half, almost immediately and at minimal cost. The only prerequisite for this is the support of all four major oil companies and while Caltex and BP are right behind the initiative Shell and Mobil are refusing to support it.
“For Shell to come out and say publicly that it has offered its ‘100% commitment to supporting the early introduction of a lower sulphur diesel’ when we have a letter from them explaining why they can’t and won’t support our initiative, is an absolute joke,” Cr Warren says.
Shell has also accused the ARC of not spelling out the likely additional cost of the change to the motoring public.
“The likely cost is less then one cent a litre. I find it quite astonishing that a company which adjusts its fuel prices up and down five or ten cents a litre at a time without warning can suddenly come over all precious about a one cent change,” the ARC Chairman says.
“The public of Auckland aren’t stupid and they won’t be fooled by Shell’s sudden and unprecedented concern for their financial well being.
“Shell is also telling us we should be addressing the real problem of congestion. We are putting massive resources into the congestion issue as Shell well knows.
“What they are doing is avoiding the issue that the change we are promoting would have a significant impact on Auckland’s air quality problem.
“By reducing sulphur content in our diesel to 1000 parts per million we would be taking 1000kg of fine particulate per day out of the air that Aucklanders breathe. That’s 365,000kg per year of potentially carcenogenic solids with deep lung penetration that we could be rid of with a simple agreement from Shell and Mobil.”
“We are already years behind the rest of the western world. Even the Philippines has tougher regulations governing the sulphur content in diesel than we do.”
Cr Warren says we need to start to catch up now and here is an opportunity to do so at minimal cost with existing refinery equipment.
He says the move would be an important first step towards bringing the country into line with fuel specification standards in countries such as the United States, Europe and Australia.
“Auckland should be the starting point because it has a serious air quality problem, 80 per cent of which is caused by exhaust emissions. It is common practice overseas to introduce cleaner fuels into congested metropolitan areas initially and for the life of me I can’t see what Shell and Mobil have against the idea.”
Cr Warren says the response to the ARC’s 0800 SMOKEY campaign launched last year has shown Aucklanders care about air quality.
“The public of Auckland have done their bit, we at the ARC are taking the initiative and doing ours but it seems Shell and Mobil want to ignore the will of the public and hope that it goes away,” he says.
“Perhaps the public of Auckland should go away and stay away from Shell and Mobil service stations until we see a bit less talk and a bit more action from those companies.”
Ends

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