Qatar to sell only unleaded gasoline

Gasoline stations in Qatar will sell only unleaded gasoline after June 1, making Qatar the first Middle Eastern country to achieve this goal, according to the National Oil Distribution Co., a subsidiary of Qatar General Petroleum Corp. Prices will not be affected by the change, the company said.


Gasoline stations in Qatar will sell only unleaded gasoline after June 1, making Qatar the first Arab and middle eastern country to achieve this goal, according to the National Oil Distribution Co. (NODCO), a subsidiary of the Qatar General Petroleum Corp. Prices will not be affected by the change, the company said.

Qatar is the first country in the Middle East to eliminate lead from all of its gasoline. Kuwait launched two unleaded products out of three brands last year, while Bahrain is planning to launch two unleaded gasoline products early in 2001. The United Arab Emirates has had 1 brand of unleaded fuel for several years, while a second product is expected to be launched soon. Oman launched 1 product in 1999, while Saudi Arabia is due to launch an unleaded gasoline product in early 2001.

"Qatar is also set to be a major exporter of unleaded gasoline and has earmarked exports of 13 million bbl/year, once NODCO's refinery expansion project is over in 18 months' time," said Mohamed K. al Sobai, NODCO general manager. Qatar produces 13,000 b/d of unleaded gasoline. After the refinery expansion, production is expected to reach 50,000 b/d. Local consumption is estimated at 12,000 b/d.

The project is 60% complete, and the first phase�a condensate plant�will start up in the third quarter of 2001. The second phase, a catalytic cracking unit, will begin operating by the fourth quarter of 2001. This will boost the output capacity of all products to 137,000 b/d.

At the end of last year, 36 countries, including the US, South Korea, Germany, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, and Scandinavian and South American countries, were already using unleaded gasoline exclusively. By the end of this year, another nine countries will have joined the lead-free club, including Qatar, the UK, France, China, and Taiwan, with 20 more to follow by 2005.

Last year, almost 78% of the world's consumption of petrol was lead-free. This is expected to increase to 87% by 2005.

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