Engine fuel quality

The blend quality of petrol, diesel, ethanol, biodiesel and biofuel in New Zealand is governed by a set of regulations designed to protect consumers and the environment.

The regulations

We are responsible for administering the Engine Fuel Specifications Regulations 2011.

The regulations provide comprehensive fuel specifications for petrol, petrol/ethanol blends, diesel, biodiesel, and diesel/biodiesel blends.

They set out the minimum standards for fuel performance, enabling consumers to purchase fuel to a quality standard appropriate for New Zealand's vehicle fleet and climatic conditions.

They also include provisions limiting fuel components that could be harmful to the environment or public health.

Engine Fuel Specifications Regulations 2011 on the New Zealand Legislation website(external link).

2016/17 updates to fuel specifications

Amendments to the regulations announced in December 2016 included:

  • reducing the sulphur level allowed in petrol from 50 to 10 parts per million
  • introducing a total oxygen limit, which potentially allows a wider range of fuel blends
  • raising the biodiesel blend limit in diesel from 5% to 7%
  • increasing New Zealand's limit for methanol in petrol from 1% to 3% volume.

There were also a number of minor technical changes and clarifications that reflected technology improvements, increased clarity and/or consequentially amended the 4 main changes above.

The changes took effect on 2 October 2017, except for the change to the maximum sulphur level which took effect on 1 July 2018.

Related information

Cabinet paper: Updating New Zealand’s engine fuel specifications [PDF, 225 KB] 

Regulatory impact statement: Updating New Zealand’s engine fuel specifications [PDF, 318 KB]

Discussion Document: Reviewing aspects of the Engine Fuel Specifications Regulations 2011 [PDF 1581KB](external link)

Reviewing the regulations

The regulations were last reviewed in 2016/2017, with the current version coming into force on 2 October 2017.

We need to review the regulations every 3 to 4 years so they stay current with developments in technology, in particular with test methods.

As well as allowing for test methods to be updated or replaced, reviewing the regulations allows us to look at other parameters to make sure New Zealand continues to be aligned with overseas specifications and technological advances.