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Bexhill 100 Motoring Club

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Ethanol in Pertrol

Information provided by



Matthew Vincent


The legislative process to permit the introduction of petrol containing up to 10% ethanol is expected to be completed by very late 2012 or early 2013. Once the enabling legislation is in place, the product, which will bear the name E10, may be sold at petrol stations, but unlike petrol containing 5% ethanol, which is already on sale, and which carries no label, E10 must be labelled. There has been recent publicity suggesting that there will be no introduction of the E10 petrol until 2014 or 2015. This may prove to be the case, and it would be situation which naturally the Federation would welcome. However, once the law permits the sale of this product, it must be recognised that it may appear in the market place. There may be retailers who wish to sell this fuel sooner rather than later. The Federation has been keen to ensure that when E10 petrol does appear at the pumps, it can be easily recognised for what it is, enabling the historic vehicle owner to make an informed choice over whether or not to purchase the product.


The higher octane petrol blend usually known as Super Premium contains much reduced levels of ethanol as a general rule, so this may be worth considering for those owners of historic vehicles who are concerned about possible adverse effects from ethanol addition to normal 95 octane unleaded petrol. Oil industry sources indicate that the Super Premium product, which must by law provide an octane quality of 97, but which may in fact exceed 99 octane, is blended to meet these quality levels without the addition of ethanol. In many cases no ethanol is blended into this product after it is transported from the refinery, although this is not always the case, making it very difficult to be precise about ethanol contents. Oil company producers do not always have close control over distribution terminals which is where ethanol is blended into petrol before sale at garage forecourts. However, on balance, purchasing a Super Premium blend of unleaded petrol provides the opportunity to minimise ethanol content.



Chris Thompson CAE eng Tech AMIMI


As ethanol is only added in the final stage of fuel distribution this is easily possible. I have contacted the major fuel suppliers and asked them directly about the addition of ethanol in the petrol they sell. The results vary, but generally speaking ...super unleaded fuel is far less likely to have ethanol blended into it than standard unleaded. But this will change as the regulations force the fuel companies to increase the amount of bio fuel they sell. (Note that this information was correct at the time of asking which was Feb 2011 – if anyone knows different, please advise the editor).


BP: Ethanol is added at 5% to unleaded petrol at all sites across the UK. BP Ultimate (super unleaded petrol) does not have ethanol added except in the South West of England.


Esso: Ethanol is added at 5% to unleaded petrol at most sites in the UK. Esso Super Unleaded petrol does not contain ethanol, except in the South West of England.


Shell: Shell has repeatedly refused to answer the question. It is therefore an assumption only, that all Shell petrol should be considered to contain 5% ethanol.


Texaco: Ethanol is added at 5% to unleaded petrol. Texaco Super Unleaded petrol does not contain ethanol.


Total: Ethanol is not added to any Total fuel (including standard unleaded petrol) except in the North West and South East of England.


As far as I can gather, the only reason that the super unleaded fuels seem to be ethanol free is because it is harder to obtain the fuel quality required for super unleaded if ethanol is present. Several of the oil companies told me that this will change in the future but that no date has been set.