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China to adopt Euro 6 equivalent fuel norms from Jan 1, 2019

London — China will adopt its latest National Phase VI/VIA vehicle fuel standards, equivalent to the Euro 6 emission standards, nationwide starting January 1 2019 as planned, the National Development and Reform Commission said in a joint statement with six central government bodies over the weekend.

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The adoption is in line with the deadline set by the State Council in late June 2018 in an accelerated push against heavy air pollution. The National Phase VI/VIA standards were first set in December 2016 with a limited rollout in major Chinese cities and its country wide implementation has been fast-tracked.

Beijing was the first city in China to adopt the new standards from January 1, 2017 when the deadline for the rest of China to fully implement National Phase 5 standards was set.

The National Phase VI/VIA standards were then expanded to 28 cities from September 2017, which included two municipalities - Beijing and Tianjin, and 26 cities in the neighboring Hebei, Shanxi, Shandong and Henan provinces. Guangzhou city, Shanghai city and Guangdong province followed.

The sale of motor fuels, which do not meet the National VIA gasoline standard (including E10 ethanol gasoline) or National VI gasoil standard (including B5 biodiesel), will not be allowed, the country's top planner said.

NEW FUEL SPECS

All the state-owned refineries -- Sinopec, PetroChina, CNOOC, Sinochem as well as Yanchang -- and most of the independent refineries have been upgraded to produce motor fuels under the new standards.

PetroChina has been supplying compliant fuels in all its 20,000-plus retail stations since December 24, and its daily supply of Phase VI gasoil and VIA gasoline reached 300,000 mt (2.38 million barrels), it said in its newsletter dated December 28.

Shandong-based independent refiners surveyed by S&P Global Platts said their plants were able to produce fuels under the new standards.

China's apparent demand for gasoline was estimated at 3.43 million b/d and gasoil at 3.94 million b/d in 2018, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics.

Despite its tight specifications, fuels under the new emissions standards will not be more expensive. Executives from both Sinopec and PetroChina said the refiners would bear the additional costs for producing upgraded fuels.

The National Phase VI specification for gasoline is divided into two grades -- National Phase VIA and National Phase VIB -- due to the different olefins content. Beijing plans to adopt the National Phase VIB gasoline standard, which has even tighter specifications, within five years from the implementation of National Phase VIA, expected around 2024.

Olefins content will be capped at 18% under National Phase VIA and 15% under National Phase VIB.

Aromatics content under both VIA and VIB standards for gasoline will fall to 35% from National Phase V's 40%, while additives containing methanol, lead, iron and manganese, such as MMT or methyl cyclopentadienyl manganese tricarbonyl will no longer be allowed. Benzene will be limited to 0.8% from 1% under National Phase V.

With respect to gasoil, the content of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are harmful to both the environment and human health, will be limited to 7% under National Phase VI standard from the current 11%.

--Oceana Zhou, newsdesk@spglobal.com

--Edited by Norazlina Jumaat, newsdesk@spglobal.com