How harmonized regulations would improve the biofuel blending system

Biofuels in Canada map

Canadian Fuels has recently published its FUEL 2015 Annual Sector Review, entitled Perspectives, which provides a broad range of perspectives and insights from academics, researchers, independent journalists and industry experts on transportation fuels and our industry today, and into the future. This blog post is from the report’s article Patchwork: Impractical by Brian Ahearn, vice-president, Western Division with the Canadian Fuels Association.

From a fuel blending standpoint, Canada is a varied patchwork of regulatory standards.

In the West, just to provide an example, regulations call for five per cent renewable fuel in gasoline in British Columbia, but 7.5 per cent ethanol in Saskatchewan. Even the regulatory language is different.

It is a challenging atmosphere for Canada’s petroleum fuels manufacturing and distribution infrastructure, one of the country’s most complex supply systems. The industry is vital to Canada’s economy, delivering 85 billion litres of fuels to customers every year.

Yet Canadians use blended fuels that are very different from coast to coast.

How the system works

Canada’s system is organized into two supply regions, or orbits: Western Canada, from B.C. to the Manitoba-Ontario border, and the east, from Ontario all the way to Newfoundland and Labrador.

While the dual orbits evolved almost a century ago, they have become increasingly fragmented and complicated since 2005 by the emergence of a growing list of renewable fuels regulations.

The regulations are both federal and provincial, and they call for a certain percentage of renewable fuels in all gasoline and diesel fuels over the course of a year. Winter fuels, particularly diesel, are different from summer fuels.

Blending requirements are too different

While today’s regulatory environment is generally very reasonable, fuel blending regulations are out of balance. The industry faces six very different mandates – or 12, if you consider gasoline and diesel separately. A situation in which fuels are different on each side of a provincial border doesn’t make sense from a market or security of supply standpoint.

A case in point is the difference in biodiesel requirements in Western Canada. It would be much better to maximize blending in import-accessible areas, where moderate temperatures lengthen the blending season — such as the west coast or the Toronto – Quebec City corridor.

However, requirements in Manitoba and Saskatchewan force refiners to haul renewable diesel by truck and rail over long distances: most renewable diesel and biodiesel is imported from Singapore, Finland and the United States, and is otherwise inaccessible to the Prairies.

In addition, this is the coldest zone in Canada, which are the least suited for blending diesel with biodiesel.

Regulatory harmonization is important

Regulatory harmonization for biofuels among the provinces is key to overcoming the climate change challenge.

One national regulatory standard for renewable fuel content would allow manufacturers one reasonable and attainable target. The result would be a simplified, streamlined fuel manufacturing and distribution system, supported by reduced administrative costs and fuels that offer uniform environmental performance across Canada.

Canadian Fuels members support better environmental performance

Members of the Canadian Fuels Association understand that climate change is not a localized challenge; it is a global challenge.

Regulatory harmonization would give Canada a stronger voice internationally to combat environmental issues.

Our members support the objectives of renewable fuels mandates, and they take regulatory compliance very seriously. We want to provide progressive fuels that meet Canadians’ desire for environmental performance.

We believe regulatory efficiency makes sense, too.

Find out more in our previous blogs about how refineries make fuels just right for winter driving, and how fuels get from the pump to your vehicle.

Most Recent Posts
Jul 28, 2020
It is particularly challenging to make predictions in uncertain times, but it remains essential to challenge the best minds to do so. Canadian Fuels Association is pleased to play a role in all discussions related to a low carbon future. David Schick, our Vice President – Western Canada, recently moderated an online panel that brought together experts with perspectives on the future of low carbon, long-haul transport.
May 14, 2020
Throughout the past two months, the Canadian transportation fuels sector has demonstrated its value as well as its strength and resiliency.  Our latest blog outlines how Canadian refineries are responding to this unprecedented shift in market and operating conditions