The Biofuels Act 2007 (the Act) prescribes that 6% of all petrol sold in NSW by volume fuel retailers be ethanol, and that 2% of all diesel sold be biodiesel. The biofuels mandates are designed to encourage broader use of sustainably produced ethanol and other biofuels in NSW. Most cars in NSW that use unleaded petrol can safely use petrol blended with up to 10% ethanol (E10).
The NSW Government announced in 2015 that reforms would be introduced to improve the retail fuel industry’s performance against the biofuels mandates. Accordingly, amendments to the Biofuels Act 2007, the Biofuels Regulation (no 2) 2016 and amendments to the fuel price signs requirements under the Fair Trading Regulation 2012 have been finalised.
Compliance with the new laws is required from either 1 January 2017 or 1 April 2017, depending on whether or not the retailer is covered by the current laws:
The Commissioner for Fair Trading has released a Statement of Regulatory Intent that sets out the enforcement approach that NSW Fair Trading will adopt following commencement of the new biofuels laws on 1 January 2017. View or download the Statement of Regulatory Intent on the Fair Trading website.
The new laws will apply to volume fuel retailers. A volume fuel retailer is a person or business who:
The laws also apply to primary wholesalers - fuel wholesalers who operate or supply petrol or diesel fuel from an oil refinery or a shipping facility. Under the new laws, primary wholesalers will still be required to register and report quarterly volumes to Fair Trading, but the mandates will not apply.
Firstly, you will need to register as a volume fuel retailer so that you will be able to comply with the requirements. The registration requirements under the new laws will apply to all service station operators from 1 January 2017 onwards. We will send you information about how to register as a volume fuel retailer using the contact details you have provided through FuelCheck. For newly regulated retailers, the registration process will open on 1 January 2017. You will not be able to register before this date.
Note that registration for FuelCheck is a separate process. Any new service station, or new operator of an existing service station, is required to register with FuelCheck as soon as possible after either taking over the existing service station, or commencing operation of the new service station. If you are a new operator and have not yet registered with FuelCheck, please do so as soon as possible by completing the Service Station Registration form on the Fair Trading website.
A formal order, confirming the steps to be taken to register, has been issued by the Secretary of the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation and published on the NSW legislation website in early January 2017. You can view the Secretary's Order here
You will need to submit quarterly reports to Fair Trading detailing the volumes of ethanol, petrol, diesel and biodiesel sold each quarter. Volume fuel retailers required to comply with the Biofuels Act for the first time under the new laws will need to submit their first quarterly return by 1 May 2017, containing volume fuel sales information for the first quarter of 2017 (ie, 1 January to 31 March).
You can view the Biofuels marketplace data on the Fair Trading website.
Volume fuel retailers are required to meet:
The ethanol mandate requires volume fuel retailers to ensure that ethanol makes up a minimum of 6% of the total volume of their petrol sales. Only ethanol that is sustainably produced can be counted towards the volume of ethanol sold under the mandate.
The biodiesel mandate requires volume fuel retailers to ensure biodiesel makes up a minimum of 2% of the total volume of their diesel sales. Only biodiesel that is sustainably produced can be counted towards the volume of biodiesel sold under the mandate.
In relation to the requirement that petrol-ethanol blend be made as accessible as any other type of petrol, Fair Trading's enforcement intention is that it will generally mean E10 nozzles are conveniently located across the service station forecourt and in comparable numbers to the other most available petrol product at the service station.
Whether a volume fuel retailer meets the biofuels volume sales mandate or not, they must still meet the requirement to offer ethanol blended petrol and make it as accessible to customers as any other petrol offered for sale.
From 1 January 2017:
It is mandatory to list the price of E10, LPG or diesel if these are offered for sale at the service station, but otherwise the service station operator is free to choose which fuels are listed on the price board.
The requirement to display the top-selling fuels will no longer apply.
The price listed on the fuel price board must be the standard retail price. This means the price available to anyone (without discounts or other special offers) expressed as the price per litre.
This will depend. If you operate a volume fuel service station there are other requirements under the law that you must comply with. These are:
Quarterly returns by volume fuel retailers must include:
Quarterly returns by volume fuel retailers are now to be submitted online. Go to the Biofuels online form training material page to access detailed instructions and online simulations to help you get started.
If a volume fuel retailer cannot meet the biofuels mandates, or needs further time to comply, an application for exemption can be made.
Exemptions can only be granted by the Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation, following consideration by an Expert Panel, and conditions will often be attached. The Exemption Framework document, including the Minister’s Guidelines to the Expert Panel, outlines how exemption applications will be considered. View or download the Biofuels Mandate Exemption Framework from the Fair Trading website.
Volume fuel retailers are eligible for an exemption if they can satisfy the Minister that:
The Minister may also grant an exemption if the retailer is unable to comply with the ethanol mandate, despite having taken all the following steps:
An online hub has been launched that enables volume fuel retailers to submit online:
From 2017, the biofuels regime will be administered via this online form, and no hard copy paperwork will be used.
Detailed instructions and online simulations on how to use the forms, including how to apply for an exemption, are available here.
If you operate a volume fuel service station that is branded as one of the major fuel retail companies (such as BP, Caltex, or 7-Eleven), you should first check with corporate head office to clarify your obligations under the Biofuels Act, if any. At many of those service stations, the corporate head office will be the volume fuel retailer for the purposes of the Biofuels Act.
If you can't resolve the question with corporate head office, you can contact NSW Fair Trading on 13 32 20. Fair Trading officers will help determine your compliance responsibilities under the new biofuels laws.
If you were a volume fuel seller under the previous laws, you will be either a volume fuel retailer, or a primary wholesaler, or both under the new laws.
If you are a volume fuel retailer only, you will need to lodge quarterly returns and apply for an exemption. Both of those will be done online.
If you are a primary wholesaler only, you will only need to lodge quarterly returns. At this stage, your quarterly returns still need to be lodged using the previous paper-based form. Wholesalers will be integrated into the online reporting functionality later in 2017.
If you are both a primary wholesaler and a volume fuel retailer, you will need to report separately for your retailing and wholesaling operations. For your fuel retailing operations, you will lodge quarterly returns and apply for exemptions online. For your fuel wholesaling operations, you will need to lodge a quarterly return using the previous paper-based form. Wholesalers will be integrated into the online reporting functionality later in 2017.
There are significant penalties for failing to comply with the requirements of the legislation, without an appropriate exemption. Penalty notices can be issued for:
Less serious incidences of non-compliance with the legislation are dealt with by penalty notice. For serious breaches of the Act, a business can be prosecuted in court. If prosecution leads to a guilty verdict, the court can impose penalties up to $550,000. Fair Trading’s enforcement policy calls for education as the first response. Prosecution is utilised where other methods of achieving compliance have not succeeded or where there is a case of significant consumer or community harm.
A person who operates or controls the operation of less than 20 service stations that are not volume fuel service stations must be registered under the Biofuels Act.
The FuelCheck order under the Fair Trading Act already requires operators of service stations to be registered. If you operate service stations and your FuelCheck registration is up to date, you do not need to take any extra registration steps. Fair Trading will use the information from your existing FuelCheck registration in order to register you under the Biofuels Act.
Operators of other service stations may also be required, on occasion, to submit a sales volume return to Fair Trading. This will only be required if and when the Secretary publishes an order on the NSW Legislation website requesting information about a particular quarter. You will receive notification if an order is published requiring you to submit a quarterly return.
In order to submit quarterly returns as required, all service station operators must keep certain records of their fuel and diesel sales.
The Biofuels Regulation requires the following information to be included in those records:
The records may be kept in the form of copies of invoices or other records of sale and must be retained for at least seven years after the end of the financial quarter in which the purchase was made.
Consumers will have improved access to E10 as more service stations will be required to offer a petrol-ethanol blend. E10 is usually the lowest priced fuel and is safe to use in most petrol powered cars manufactured after 1986.
Most cars manufactured since 1986 to run on regular unleaded petrol are able to use E10. The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) represents vehicle manufacturers in Australia and their website has a comprehensive, authoritative list of vehicle makes and models and whether or not they are ethanol-compatible.
No. Consumers will continue to be able to choose which fuel they use in their vehicle.
Get a free copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader so you can access PDF versions of our information.