AGCC nations are increasingly choosing to introduce and use unleaded gasoline, as environmental awareness is becoming heightened in the region.
At 1999's end, 36 countries across the world were using unleaded gasoline, and by December 2000, about 9 more nations will turn to unleaded fuel, including Bahrain, the UK, China, Taiwan, France and Qatar. AGCC countries will primarily opt to use methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) as a substitute to lead gas content. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait currently boast MTBE plants, with demand for the ether expected to skyrocket in the AGCC market in the coming years.
Bahrain's Ministry of Oil and Industry announced on May 28 that unleaded gasoline would be available in the country starting July 1, 2000. To the delight of car owners, there will be no increase in prices, as both Mumtaz and Jayyid unleaded gas will be priced at current rates.
"The introduction of unleaded gasoline will be phased in gradually, with all petrol stations fully replacing the current grades of Mumtaz and Jayyid with lead-free fuel by December 31 at the latest," the Ministry announced.
"The introduction of ULG to Bahrain is a very positive move supported by the Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa in protecting Bahrain's environment from lead pollution by adopting such internationally accepted measures," remarked Sheikh Isa bin Ali Al Khalifa, Minister of Oil and Industry.
Bahrain's move comes amid a sweeping wave of nations contemplating the switch to lead-free gas, Gulf news reported. The regional efforts are fueled by U.S.-driven efforts to make the world completely lead-gas free by 2005.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as part of environmental efforts, has announced that it would commence unleaded fuel production in January 2001. Moreover, a ban will be imposed on vehicles not equipped for unleaded gas (ULG).
National Oil Distribution Co. (NODCO), sole refiner of crude in Qatar, is expected to offer unleaded gasoline next week, according to an official at the Qatar General Petroleum Corporation (QGPC). Qatar, the first Middle Eastern nation to boast a lead-free product when in 1984 it introduced unleaded premium-octane gas, is projected to become the first Mid-Eastern to become totally lead-free.
"The decision comes under instructions of the Energy Minister. We are now ready to launch super-octane gasoline. NODCO embarked a few months ago on storage and loading facilities at Mesaieed for the new product," the official disclosed.
Currently, the UAE offers both lead-free and regular gasoline.
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )