Thursday,25 April, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1382, (22 - 28 February 2018)
Thursday,25 April, 2019
Issue 1382, (22 - 28 February 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Super gasoline?

A new premium octane fuel is now available on the Egyptian market, reports Ahmed Kotb


Super gasoline?
Super gasoline?

Some 90 petrol stations in Cairo started to offer 95 Super Plus petrol this week, a new premium unleaded octane fuel product.

Sold at LE6.6 per litre (around $0.4), the same price as the regular 95 fuel, the new product was unveiled last week by the Ministry of Petroleum. “Gasoline 95 Super Plus was developed to keep abreast of the latest technological advances in modern car engines,” said Petroleum Minister Tarek Al-Molla.

The higher-quality product contains additives that help engines run more efficiently, prolonging their lives and saving more fuel, he said. Distribution started on Monday through 84 stations owned by Exxon Mobil and Total, with other companies being welcome to provide the new product after adding their own additives, Al-Molla said. The latter should be compliant with specifications set by the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC).

Exxon Mobil, one of the biggest oil companies operating in Egypt, said that the Super Plus 95 fuel contains detergent molecules that attach themselves to deposits that build up in key engine parts and remove them to make the fuel burn more efficiently. The company also said that the additives helped to form protective layers inside engines to protect them from rust and corrosion, thus helping them to run more smoothly and perform better.

The fuel is recommended by the makers of the high-performance engines used in modern cars. Many car-makers and distributors in Egypt have been using older-generation engines in their new cars to attract customers who want to avoid being obliged to use the more expensive octane 95 fuel required by modern engines. They prefer to use the cheaper octane 92 fuel that is sold at LE5 per litre.

Some drivers have wanted to see the newer engines introduced to the Egyptian market, while others have found that it is an advantage to avoid the more expensive fuel even though newer engines can be more fuel-efficient.

Mohamed Omar, a car owner, said the amount of fuel saved by the newer engines did not justify the price difference between the 95 and 92 fuels.

Other car owners prefer using octane 95. “I can feel the smoothness and quieter sound of the engine when using the octane 95 fuel,” Sherif Shawki, a car owner, said. This could translate into extending engine life, he added, even if there were only mild savings in fuel consumption between the two types.

“Some engines accept lower-grade fuel, like 92 instead of the recommended 95, but at the cost of shorter life expectancy,” said Ahmed Breem, manager of Car Clinic Egypt, an automotive repair shop.

Newer advanced engines can develop problems in a short period of time if lower-quality fuel is used, he pointed out, adding that in his view the octane 95 fuel saved fuel, provided smoother operation for engines, and prolonged their lives.

Some drivers have been suspicious of the new product. Mohamed, who works at a petrol station in 6 October city, said that as the government continues to lift subsidies on fuel the price of octane 92 will equal that of octane 95.

“This is a marketing stunt to convince more drivers to use the unsubsidised product and eventually level off production of the subsidised octane 92 fuel,” he said.

The price of the octane 95 fuel increased to LE6.6 per litre in June 2017, up from LE6.25. It is not subsidised, but its price was increased as part of a government plan to gradually lift fuel subsidies.

Prices of unleaded octane 92 and 80 fuel were also hiked in June last year to LE5 and LE3.65 per litre, respectively, up from LE3.5 and LE2.35. The petroleum minister has pledged on several occasions that prices will not see further increases until June 2018. Cutting fuel subsidies is part of the government’s International Monetary Fund (IMF)-backed economic reform programme.

Unleaded petrol was first offered in Egypt in 1995 and was then sold at around one sixth of its current price. There were concerns about rising lead levels in Cairo at the time, mainly due to car exhausts. Egypt consumes more than seven million tons of petrol products per year, according to the Petroleum Ministry.

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