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Standard fact sheet.

Service stations - biofuels requirements 

The biofuels mandate in NSW 

The Biofuels Act 2007 establishes the biofuels mandate which requires volume fuel retailers to ensure:

  • a petrol-ethanol blend (E10 or E85) is made available at volume fuel service stations
  • petrol-ethanol blend is made at least as accessible as regular unleaded petrol at volume fuel service stations
  • ethanol is at least 6% of all petrol sold
  • biodiesel is at least 2% of all diesel sold.

Who is affected by the biofuels mandate? 

The biofuel laws applies to volume fuel retailers, which are persons or businesses who:

  • operate or control one or more volume fuel service stations — a service station that sells three or more types of petrol or diesel and sells more than 900,000 litres of petrol and diesel combined per quarter, in two consecutive quarters, or
  • operates or controls the operation of 20 or more service stations, none of which are volume fuel service stations.

Primary wholesalers are fuel wholesalers who operate or supply petrol or diesel fuel from an oil refinery or a shipping facility and are required to register and report quarterly volumes to Fair Trading, but the mandate does not apply. 

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I am a volume fuel retailer – what do I need to do? 

Register

Firstly, you must register as a volume fuel retailer to comply with the requirements. The registration requirements under the biofuel laws apply to all service station operators. Fair Trading uses contact details you have provided through FuelCheck to provide you with further information on how to register as a volume fuel retailer.

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, was issued by the Secretary of the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation and published on the NSW legislation website. You can view the Secretary's Order here.

Report quarterly

If you operate as a volume fuel retailer or a primary wholesaler, you must submit quarterly reports to Fair Trading detailing the volumes of ethanol, petrol, diesel and biodiesel sold within one month after the end of each quarter. A maximum penalty of $5,500 may apply if you fail to provide the report without a valid reason.

You can view the Biofuels marketplace data on the Fair Trading website.

Meet the minimum biofuels requirements

Volume fuel retailers are required to meet:

  • the requirement to ensure that a petrol-ethanol blend (E10 or E85) is available for retail customers and is, at a minimum, as accessible as regular unleaded petrol.
  • the ethanol mandate
  • the biodiesel mandate.

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.

The accessibility requirement means that the number of nozzles of E10 (plus E85 where available) at volume fuel service stations must be at least equal to the number of regular unleaded nozzles. Where there is no regular unleaded available, any number (one or more) of petrol-ethanol blend nozzles will be sufficient for compliance.

If any of the four elements of the mandate are not met, the retailer must apply to the Secretary for an exemption.

Update fuel price signs

Service stations selling 4 or fewer fuel types must list all their fuel prices on a prominently displayed price board. Service stations selling more than 4 fuel types must list a minimum of 4 fuel prices (but may list more if they wish).

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 no longer applies. 

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.

 

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I already sell E10. What do I need to do? 

If you operate a volume fuel service station there are other requirements under the law that you must comply with. These are:

  • ensuring that ethanol blended fuel is made at least as accessible as regular unleaded petrol offered at the site
  • displaying the price of E10 on the service station’s price board
  • registering as a volume fuel retailer with Fair Trading and submitting quarterly returns online 
  • ensuring that any ethanol or biodiesel counted towards the mandate complies with a sustainability standard prescribed by the Biofuels Regulation — either the ‘RSB Principles and Criteria for Sustainable Biofuels Production’ or ISO13065:2015 ‘Sustainable criteria for bioenergy’. Seek more information from your fuel supplier if you are unsure.

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What information has to be included in my quarterly returns? 

Quarterly returns by volume fuel retailers must include:

  1. the total volume of petrol sold (including petrol-ethanol blend)
  2. the total volume of ethanol sold (this means the amount of pure ethanol sold as part of petrol-ethanol blends)
  3. the total volume of diesel fuel sold (including biodiesel blend)
  4. the total volume of biodiesel sold (this means the amount of pure biodiesel as part of biodiesel blends)
  5. the number of service stations at which petrol-ethanol blend is available for retail sale, how many of those service stations are volume fuel service stations and the number of nozzles and bowsers available for retail sale of petrol-ethanol blend at each of those service stations
  6. the number of service stations at which regular unleaded petrol is available for retail sale, how many of those service stations are volume fuel service stations and the number of nozzles and bowsers available for retail sale of regular unleaded petrol at each of those service stations.

How do I submit my quarterly returns?

Quarterly returns by volume fuel retailers can be submitted online or by email to biofuels@finance.nsw.gov.au, accompanied by any required information. Go to the Biofuels online form training material page to access detailed instructions and online simulations to help you get started with the online portal.

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Can I get an exemption from a minimum biofuels requirement? 

If a volume fuel retailer cannot meet any one of the four elements of the biofuels mandate, or needs further time to comply, an application for exemption can be made.

Exemptions can be granted by the Secretary for the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation, following consideration by an Expert Panel, and conditions will often be attached. The Exemption Framework document, including the Secretary’s Guidelines to the Expert Panel, outlines how exemption applications are 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 Secretary that:

  • the retailer has taken all the steps set out in the regulations to comply with the mandate, or has otherwise taken all reasonable steps to comply; or
  • the exemption is reasonable in order to allow the retailer a period of time to take all steps required to comply with the mandates; or
  • compliance by the retailer may result in a risk to public health or safety; or
  • compliance would not be economically viable; or 
  • other extraordinary circumstances prevent compliance.

The Secretary may also grant an exemption if the retailer is unable to comply with the ethanol mandate, despite having taken all the following steps:

  • installed or upgraded infrastructure at their service stations to enable supply of a petrol-ethanol blend and
  • made a petrol-ethanol blend available at their service stations and
  • secured sufficient supply of petrol-ethanol blend for their service stations and
  • marketed the petrol-ethanol blend they sell, including at a minimum ensuring the price of E10 is displayed prominently on a price board alongside the price of other fuels and
  • ensured that all E10 sold contains at least 9% ethanol.

Applying for an exemption

An online hub is available to enable volume fuel retailers to submit applications online:

  • volume fuel retailer registrations
  • quarterly sales reports
  • exemption applications.

Exemption applications can also be sent by email to biofuels@finance.nsw.gov.au accompanied by any required information.

Detailed instructions and online simulations on how to use the forms, including how to apply for an exemption, are available here.

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What is the process for a 'branded' service station within a larger network 

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 Act, if any. At many of those service stations, the corporate head office is the volume fuel retailer for the purposes of the 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 you comply with the biofuels laws.

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I am a volume fuel retailer and a primary wholesaler. What do I need to do? 

If you are a volume fuel retailer only, you must lodge quarterly returns and apply for an exemption. Both of those can be done online or by email.

If you are a primary wholesaler only and do not directly operate any volume fuel service stations, you only need to register and lodge quarterly returns. The minimum biofuels mandate does not apply to wholesalers.

If you are both a primary wholesaler and a volume fuel retailer, you need to report separately for your retailing and wholesaling operations. For your fuel retailing operations, you must lodge quarterly returns and apply for exemptions online or by email. For your fuel wholesaling operations, you only need to lodge a quarterly return.

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What happens if I do not comply? 

There are significant penalties for failing to comply with the requirements of the legislation, without an appropriate exemption. Penalty notices can be issued for:

  • failing to comply with a biofuel mandate ($5,500)
  • failing to make a petrol-ethanol blend available at a volume fuel service station which is, at a minimum, as accessible as regular unleaded petrol ($5,500)
  • contravening a condition of an exemptions ($5,500)
  • failing to provide a biofuels return (quarterly report) or knowingly providing a return which contains false or misleading information ($5,500)
  • failing to keep records as required in the legislation or knowingly keeping records which are false or misleading ($5,500)
  • failing to register as a volume fuel retailer or primary wholesaler and keep details up to date ($1,100).

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.

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What do operators of other service stations have to do?  

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 also requires operators of service stations to be registered. Fair Trading will use the information from your existing FuelCheck registration in order to register you under the 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.

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Record keeping requirements for service station operators 

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 volume of petrol or diesel sold in the transaction
  • whether the petrol sold was or was not petrol-ethanol blend
  • whether the diesel sold was or was not biodiesel blend
  • in the case of a sale of petrol-ethanol blend - the amount of ethanol in the petrol-ethanol blend
  • in the case of a sale of biodiesel blend - the amount of biodiesel in the biodiesel blend
  • whether the petrol-ethanol blend or biodiesel blend sold complies with one of the prescribed biofuel sustainability standards, including details of any relevant certification.

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.

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I am a consumer, how do the laws affect me? 

Consumers will have improved access to E10 as more service stations are required to offer a petrol-ethanol blend. E10 is usually the lowest priced fuel and is safe to use in most modern petrol powered cars.

Can I use E10 in my vehicle?

Consumers can visit the E10 Fuel for Thought campaign website www.e10fuelforthought.nsw.gov.au and use the E10 compatibility checker to find out if their car is E10 compatible. Most modern petrol cars on Australian roads today are compatible with E10.

Will I have to use E10 in my vehicle?

No. Consumers will continue to be able to choose which fuel they use in their vehicle.

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