Low aromatic unleaded fuel: The facts

Indigenous AffairsHealth and WellbeingLow Aromatic Unleaded Fuel
Saturday, August 1, 2015
Publication author(s):
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
Publication abstract:

Information developed by BP Australia and Viva Energy Australia to answer questions about using low aromatic unleaded fuel.

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What is low aromatic unleaded fuel? 

Low aromatic unleaded fuel has been designed to discourage people from sniffing by lowering the amount of the toxic aromatic components which give people who sniff petrol a ‘high’. Viva Energy Australia (Viva Energy) and BP Australia (BP) both manufacture low aromatic unleaded fuel to support Australian Government initiatives to reduce petrol sniffing in regional and remote areas of Australia. 

What is the difference between low aromatic fuel and regular unleaded 91 fuel? 

Essentially the same components for all motor spirits have been used in the manufacture of low aromatic unleaded fuel. The main difference from regular unleaded 91 fuel is that the percentage of one of the components has been minimised in order to limit the total amount of aromatics. 

Why are there different names for low aromatic unleaded fuel? 

Viva Energy produces low aromatic unleaded fuel, which is sold through Shell branded outlets under the brand name Shell Unleaded 91 Low Aromatic. For further information about Viva Energy’s low aromatic fuel, or where you can buy Shell Unleaded 91 Low Aromatic go to www.shell.com.au/lowaromatic

BP produces low aromatic unleaded fuel which it distributes under the brand name Opal. For further information on BP’s low aromatic fuel, or where you can buy Opal fuel go to www.opalfuel.com.au.

Regardless of brand name, all low aromatic unleaded fuel is required to comply with the legally mandated specification for unleaded petrol under the National Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000. 

How do I know if low aromatic unleaded fuel is suitable for my vehicle?

Low aromatic fuel has a minimum octane rating of 91 and can be used where the manufacture recommends the use of regular 91 octane unleaded fuel as a minimum. It is suitable for use in cars and boats that are compatible with regular unleaded 91, including cars, petrol 4WDs, boats and vans.
Vehicles that shouldn’t use low aromatic unleaded fuel include those that require a premium unleaded fuel with an octane rating of 95 or higher. Cars built prior to 1986 may require a lead replacement additive. 

Will my car manufacturer’s warranty still apply if low aromatic unleaded fuel is used? 

Low aromatic fuel meets all relevant Federal Specifications. BP Australia and Viva Energy stand by the quality of their products including their low aromatic fuel when stored, handled and used as per accepted standards. Please refer to the manufacturer’s handbook if you are unsure of what fuel to use. 

Can I mix/swap between regular unleaded 91 fuel and low aromatic unleaded fuel? 

Yes. Low aromatic unleaded fuel can be used in place of regular unleaded fuel. Importantly, because it has a 91 octane rating the same as regular unleaded fuel, these fuels can be mixed in your petrol tank.

Can I use low aromatic unleaded fuel in my boat?

Low aromatic unleaded fuel is safe to use in boats where the manufacturer recommends the use of regular unleaded 91. 

Can I mix low aromatic unleaded fuel with 2 stroke oil? 

Low aromatic unleaded fuel is a direct substitute for regular unleaded 91; therefore it can be mixed with two stroke oil where the manufacturer recommends the use of regular unleaded 91. 

Has low aromatic unleaded fuel been tested? 

Both Viva Energy’s and BP’s low aromatic unleaded fuel has been independently tested. Independent lab testing confirmed that low aromatic unleaded fuel offered equivalent performance to regular unleaded 91 in both boat and car engines. 

Does low aromatic unleaded fuel contain ethanol? 

No. Low aromatic unleaded fuel does not contain ethanol or any other oxygenates as added components. What is the octane rating of low aromatic unleaded fuel?

Low aromatic unleaded fuel has a minimum 91 octane rating and meets all the specifications for regular unleaded 91 fuel. Low aromatic unleaded fuel meets the National Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000 which provides the legislative basis for national fuel quality and fuel quality information standards for Australia. 

Will my engine require any adjustments in order to use low aromatic unleaded fuel? 

No. Low aromatic unleaded fuel shouldn’t require any engine adjustment. Vehicles with adjustable engine management systems should be set within the range prescribed by the engine manufacturer. No adjustment should be necessary other than as part of routine maintenance to keep the vehicle in tune and operating at its best. 

Will low aromatic unleaded fuel affect any fuel system components? 

No. Low aromatic unleaded fuel is compatible with hoses and other fuel system items. The use of low aromatic unleaded fuel will not have a direct impact on fuel system components such as hoses. Hoses do deteriorate naturally through use and should be checked regularly as they have a finite service life. 

Does low aromatic unleaded fuel affect the exhaust system? 

No. Independent testing of low aromatic unleaded fuel has revealed no significant impact on vehicle emissions and no discernible impact on exhaust systems. 

How do I store low aromatic unleaded fuel? 

Low aromatic unleaded fuel has the same storage requirements as regular unleaded 91 fuel. The storage life of regular unleaded fuel is one year when stored under shelter in a sealed container. Once a seal is broken the fuel has a storage life of six months at 20 °C, or three months at 30 °C. If stored in an open container or fuel tank, the storage life is reduced to one month. This can be extended by topping up with one third of fresh fuel, which restores volatile components that have evaporated. 

Where can I find more information on low aromatic unleaded fuel products? 

To find out more background or technical information on either of the low aromatic unleaded fuel products in Australia, please go online.

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