Municipality wants to experiment with low emissions diesel fuel 

Premium fuel would cost more

A new high-grade fuel, proven to reduce harmful air emissions, could be powering the municipality’s diesel fleet in the months to come.

The fuel, a low sulphur/low aromatic diesel, is produced by Shell at their Scotford Refinery east of Edmonton.

"It’s like a premium grade fuel… except it just has better qualities," said Brian Barnett, general manager of engineering and public works at the municipality.

"There’s new legislation for emissions coming into place in 2007 and then future ones for 2010 so oil and gas companies as well as car manufacturing companies are working away on these new emissions standards and this fuel, an ultra low sulphur (fuel), is a step in that direction."

But there’s one major hitch to the plan.

The fuel isn’t available in Whistler.

Barnett however sees a way around that problem through the Lower Mainland Municipal Association.

Currently the municipality purchases its regular diesel fuel at a bulk rate from the LMMA.

"What we would do is ask the Lower Mainland Municipal Association to see if they can buy enough fuel to make Shell interested in delivering this good fuel," said Barnett.

"So it would probably mean a number of municipalities would be using it, not just Whistler."

Denita Davis, public affairs representative with Shell Canada, said the company would be more than willing to explore the possibilities of working with municipalities.

Shell’s low sulphur/low aromatic fuel has been available since 2002 she explained but not for regular retail purchase.

"The market for these types of fuels is only just emerging," she said.

"Right now we’re working with a number of fleet operators who’ve shown an interest in the low sulphur/low aromatic diesel as a cost effective way to reduce emissions."

Compared to engines running on regular low sulphur diesel, engines running on Shell’s low sulphur/low aromatic diesel emit 70 per cent less oxides of sulphur, 12 per cent less particulate matter and five per cent less oxides and nitrogen oxides.

The fuel however is generally a little more expensive than regular diesel fuel.

"Diesel prices depend on a variety of factors," said Davis.

"Low sulphur/low aromatic diesel is a premium product and costs more to produce than regular low sulphur gasoline. But on any given day it’s difficult to say exactly how the price compares of low sulphur/low aromatic diesel to regular low sulphur diesel just because there are so many market factors to consider."

Barnett envisions the fuel could be delivered to the fuel dispensing system at the municipal works yard where it would be distributed to the municipality’s 14 on road diesel vehicles and 18 off road vehicles.

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