Australia proposes to require cleaner gasoline by 2025, with aid to refiners

(Reuters) - Australia proposed on Friday to tighten gasoline quality requirements by 2025 in line with most rich countries, while offering more aid to its two refiners, Ampol Ltd and Viva Energy, to meet the new standards.

The move advances by two years the preliminary, undefined plan of the previous government, which left office in May.

In the proposal seeking to meet emissions standards called Euro 6d, the government said its preferred option would be to cut aromatics in premium-grade 95 RON gasoline to a maximum of 35%, with no change to 91 RON and 98 RON gasoline.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) has long said Australia needs higher quality fuels in order to prompt car makers to send the country their latest models.

"Currently, we have some of the worst-quality petrol in the advanced world," FCAI Chief Executive Tony Weber said in a statement.

He welcomed the step on 95 RON gasoline but said the other grades needed to be tackled as well.

If the government goes ahead with its preferred option, it said it would provide A$26 MM ($17 MM) each to Ampol and Viva to upgrade their refineries at Lytton and Geelong, respectively, to meet the new standard.

That assistance would come on top of the A$125 MM the government is providing each of the refiners to upgrade their plants to produce ultra-low sulfur gasoline by the end of 2024.

Responses to the proposal are due by Dec. 16.

A Viva spokesperson said the refiner would need time to review the government's options.

An Ampol spokesperson said the company looked forward to finalizing aromatics plans in coming months.

($1=1.4916 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Bradley Perrett and Clarence Fernandez)

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