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Belgium could pass law targeting export fuel quality in late March – ministry

Wednesday, 07 February 2024 | 17:00

The Belgian government aims to pass a law tightening the quality of exported fuels in the second half of March, the environment ministry told Reuters, as it targets a profitable trade of lower-quality gasoline and diesel from Northern Europe to West Africa.

Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) is the major blending and storage hub for refined fuels in Europe, and exports of cheaper gasoline and diesel with specifications that would not be permitted in local markets to West Africa have long been a mainstay of the region’s trade.

The Belgian government initially said the law could be passed by February when it announced it back in November, but that was dependent on collaboration with the wider Belgian federal government, its advisory councils, and the EU.

The law has made it through consultation with regional authorities and other ministers, and federal advisory councils are giving feedback, said Mathias Bienstman, spokesperson of the Belgium’s environment minister Zakia Khattabi.

But a three-month standstill period for the European Union’s Technical Regulations Information System (TRIS), which allows the Commission and other member states to examine potential internal trade barriers before legislation can be passed, is in place until March 11, he added.

Bienstman clarified that there had been no specific disruptions or push-backs to the law which had caused delays.

The law aims impose a maximum sulphur content of exported road fuels to 50 parts per million (ppm), three-times lower than the current Nigerian import specification, as well as tightening specs to 1% benzene and 2 milligrams per litre manganese.

It mirrors legislation brought into effect by the Netherlands in April 2023.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Ahmad Ghaddar and Robert Harvey, Editing by Louise Heavens and Ros Russell)

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