Ethanol use charter signed in France

Doris Leblond
OGJ Correspondent

PARIS, Nov. 14 -- Members of France's oil industry, independent motor fuels distributors, automobile manufacturers, farmers, and ethanol producers on Nov. 13 signed the "Charter for Ethanol E85" which sets out their commitments over the next 5 years.

Esso SAF is the only major oil company that did not sign it. Spokesman Emmanuel du Grandrut told OGJ the group has already carried out all needed investments to incorporate the compulsory 5% ethanol into its gasoline, a content adapted to all current motors. E85 would require further investments, but Esso said it would adapt its investment as demand grows.

E85 contains 85% ethanol and 15% traditional unleaded gasoline. Finance and Economy Minister Thierry Breton describes it as "the first post-oil fuel." Its introduction as an alternative to traditional unleaded at all service stations in France by 2010 was deemed feasible in a study commissioned by the government from racing champion Alain Prost. It was launched at the end of September on condition that "the dynamics were all launched together" (OGJ, Oct. 23, 2006, p. 32).

Signing dynamics
In signing, Total SA promised to deploy the most E85 points of sale by yearend 2007—200-275—about 40% more than the Prost study considers necessary. BP France promised to deploy 5-10 distribution points over the same period, as did Société des pétroles Shell and Agip France.

Oil companies and motor fuels distributors are committed to adapt 500-600 selling points to "Superethanol E85" by yearend 2007, a number they said should treble by 2008 to meet growing demand.

This demand should be met by the commitment of automobile manufacturers to put on the market in 2007 at least one model capable of running on this type of fuel at a price in line with conventional models. The government promised that tax breaks to make the new fuel competitive would be submitted to Parliament.

Farmers are also committed to providing reliable supplies on a contractual basis to the ethanol producers, and producers have signed agreements to keep up with the distribution trend and, through productivity measures, achieve processing costs competitive with those of American operators by yearend 2012.

A committee will be set up to follow up application by all signatories of the charter, which became operational Nov. 13.

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