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Analysis of the transition to ultra-low sulfur fuels in Brazil, China, India and Mexico


Emerging market countries, including Brazil, China, India and Mexico (BCIM), have also reduced sulfur content in their fuels, but not yet to ultra-low sulfur levels (<50 part per million) throughout those countries. For example, the current national diesel and gasoline sulfur standards in India are 350 parts per million and 150 per per million, respectively, with 50 parts per million for both fuels required in major cities. China has set maximum sulphur levels of 350 ppm and 150 ppm for diesel and gasoline, respectively. However, selected provinces and cities provide 50 ppm gasoline and diesel with Beijing recently moving to 10 ppm gasoline and diesel.

While Brazil’s national diesel sulfur level is about 1350 ppm on average, Brazil requires the sale of a limited amount of 10 ppm diesel nationwide for Euro-V compliant heavy-duty vehicles starting in January 2013. In Mexico, for gasoline the major metropolitan areas comply with the 30 (avg)/80 (max) ppm sulfur standard whereas in rural areas gasoline has sulfur levels between 300-650 ppm. For diesel, although the maximum allowed level is 500 ppm, 15 ppm diesel is available in the major metropolitan areas and cities that border the US.

Against this background, the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) commissioned a study of refining capability requirements, corresponding capital investment requirements and per litre refining costs (in US dollars) to transition to ultra-low-sulfur-gas (ULSG) and ultra-low-sulfur-diesel (ULSD), as well as to achieve certain other improvements in gasoline and diesel fuel quality in India, Mexico, Brazil and China.

The primary objectives of this study were to identify the primary additions to refining process capability required for producing ultra-low sulfur fuels with the refining operations and crude oil slates typical of those currently used in the four countries considered, and to assess, by means of refinery LP modeling, the capital and operating costs required for these countries to transition to ULSF (and to the other fuel standards considered).

You can download the document here: Analysis of the Transition to Ultra-Low Sulfur Fuels in Brazil, China, India and Mexico