Yonhap. South Korea’s planned introduction of biodiesel next year could be delayed because local refiners are reluctant to sell the “unstable energy product.”
The S. Korean Ministry of Environment (MOE) and Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy (MOCIE) began working on biodiesel in 2002 as one solution for environmental, global warming and energy supply issues. MOCIE built a full-scale commercial plant at the end of 2002.
Work on a Korean biodiesel standard began in 2003, resulting in a draft in September 2004. The Korean standard is close—but not identical to—EN14214, the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) biodiesel standard.
The Korean standard can be higher in acidity than the European standard, and lower in kinematic viscosity.
B20 blends are available at a limited number of stations and fleet trials are underway. The government wants broad commercialization of biodiesel in 2006.
Industry sources told Yonhap that local refiners including SK Corp., GS Caltex Corp. and S-Oil Corp. are reluctant to cooperate with the government’ plan, saying that the biodiesel is not stable enough to be used in the diesel engines of vehicles. The refiners argue that the biodiesel is so acidic that it affects the smooth operation of vehicles. They cited cases where the renewable fuel caused technical malfunctions in some cars this year.
“Considering the government’s strong determination, it seems inevitable bio diesel will be introduced to the market,” an official at one refinery company said. “It should wait further until the government and companies reach common ground.”
South Korea, entirely dependent upon imports to meet its oil needs, is the world’s fifth largest importer of oil, according to the EIA.