In the last issue, we talked about how the domestic auto industry is ready for this. Today about another: will our fuel correspond to its products?
WHY RUSSIA EURO II?
Recall: in Europe, the Euro II standards were introduced back in 1996, and from the current Euro IV is in force, despite the fact that a number of models have already been designed to meet the requirements of Euro V. Moreover, the European Parliament intends to take a higher threshold by 2011 - to reduce the toxicity of car exhausts another 20%! Thus, with the introduction of Euro II norms this spring, Russia is at least ten years behind the West.
Someone will probably ask: why do we actually need these civilized, sterile norms? For most motorists, this is not just a headache, but an additional cost.
The reasons for following the European course are more than thorough. To begin with, Russia has long been striving for the World Trade Organization (WTO), and in order to enter it as a full member, and not a poor relative, who can arrogantly forgive environmental flaws for a while, you need to bring your transport to the “European denominator”. Without this, Russia dooms itself. The companies that trade with us, as well as our business operating in the European market, suffer heavy losses due to the Russian backwardness in applying modern environmental standards. Just think: European cars cannot call us inland, it is dangerous to move away from the main routes where there is at least some kind of fuel quality control. According to LUKoil experts, in Russia, and especially in the provinces, almost 40% of total sales are low-quality fuel. And we are talking about surrogates and fakes obtained by direct distillation of gasoline. There is also a high probability of running into leaded gasoline, which has been banned for two years now. Such fuel can disable any modern engines (not to mention neutralizers) in a matter of hours. In turn, our environmentally “dirty” vehicles cannot get into Europe. Hence the exorbitant increase in transportation costs.
Environmental standards for fuel - this is a big problem for its manufacturers, but far from the same as it might seem at first glance. In the absence of a unified system of standards with Europe, they actually lose the western market - Russian firms sell crude oil abroad, rather than much more expensive refined products.
All of the above, however, pales in comparison with the main thing - the root cause of the emergence of econorms. In Russia, especially in areas of large cities, the environmental situation is catastrophically deteriorating. And this is a very big "merit" of cars, the number of which is growing like an avalanche. With the “exhaust” economic standards in our country that are underestimated, it is motor transport today that is the main source of environmental pollution.
FUEL IS. A BUYER?
The most curious thing! Leading fuel producers in Russia … have long been ready for the transition to Euro II.
“Today, all the largest suppliers and sellers of gasoline can supply such fuel in the required volumes, ” says Grigory Sergienko, executive director of the Moscow Fuel Association. - With an annual consumption of about 29 million tons of gasoline and diesel fuel in the country, the production of the required amount according to Euro II standards is not a problem for oil refiners. The main question in another area is whether the consumer is ready to buy cleaner gasoline.
Manufacturers initially already figured out what market demand is to estimate the need for Euro II fuel. Today 60% of cars in Russia have engines that do not fit into European environmental standards at all. Only 30% (new “frets”, “Volga”, KamAZ and “used” foreign cars) comply with the Euro II standard. The remaining 10%, which includes modern cars of foreign manufacture, is at the level of Euro III and Euro IV. Thus, it turns out that only 40% of cars are needed "Euro gasoline!" The rest may well cost low-octane or cheap diesel fuel.
The example of the Euro-diesel fuel, which was launched at LUKoil factories, only confirms the fears that high-quality, but more expensive fuel may not be sold on the domestic market. LUKoil diesel fuel meeting Euro IV standards, as a result, did not find wide sales inside the country, and the company was forced to export almost all of its Euro diesel fuel. Oil workers, of course, are not at a loss - in Finland they even opened a network of gas stations for their diesel fuel, but what next?
“Of course, at any of our branded gas stations in Russia, we also have diesel fuel meeting Euro IV standards, ” says Dmitry Dolgov, head of the LUKoil press service. - But the demand for it is really small. Can this happen with gasoline? Hardly. Today, all LUKoil gasoline complies with Euro II. The price of its production is slightly higher in comparison with low-environmental gasoline (according to our information, the difference is less than 50 kopecks per liter - A.M.). As you understand, we will not trade at a loss. Perhaps, the profit margin will slightly decrease, or, as it is commonly called, “margin”, but LUKoil is not going to abandon the strategy for the production and sale of gasoline corresponding to Euro II.
In preparation for the transition to Euro II, the state has taken a number of steps that should stimulate oil refiners to produce “eurofuel”. In particular, a serious excise tax was introduced on the so-called straight-run gasoline (popularly the eightieth). It does not apply to high-octane brands, so producing and selling it should be more profitable. Skeptics, however, fear that in the absence of tight control at gas stations (especially those that are not part of large gas filling systems), gasoline and diesel fuel meeting Euro II standards will simply be replaced by low-quality surrogates.
“The quality control system should reach a new level, ” says Grigory Sergienko. - Today, the seller can only be held responsible if he has replaced, say, 92nd gasoline with eighties. The key to quality control should be the creation of a system of control and punishment in case of non-compliance of the sold gasoline and diesel fuel with the standards.
And one more serious question. Are motorists willing to pay more for higher-quality fuel today? Such a study commissioned by the Ministry of Fuel and Energy recently conducted VTsIOM. Here are its results: 55% of motorists agree to take such a step, 37% are not ready yet, the rest find it difficult to answer.
- The survey results are better than we expected. Recall that only 40% of cars in Russia are technologically in need of using Euro II fuel, and exceeding this threshold indicates that the Russian consumer is psychologically ready to pay more for the best product, ”commented Stanislav Naumov, assistant to the head of the Ministry of Industry and Energy.
AIT Executive Director Grigory Sergienko also believes that a lot will depend on how quickly the psychology of motorists themselves changes.