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Standard fact sheet.

Service stations - biofuels requirements 

Reforms to the biofuels mandate in NSW 

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:

  • from 1 January 2017 for retailers regulated under the existing requirements
  • from 1 April 2017 for retailers not currently regulated.

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.

Who is affected by the new laws? 

The new laws will apply to volume fuel retailers. A volume fuel retailer is a person or business who:

  • operates or controls one or more volume fuel service stations, that is, a service station that sells three or more types of petrol or diesel and sells more than 900,000 litres of petrol and diesel 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.

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.

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I will be a volume fuel retailer under the new laws. What do I need to do? 

Register

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

Report quarterly

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.

Meet the minimum biofuels requirements

Volume fuel retailers are required to meet:

  • the ethanol mandate
  • the biodiesel mandate
  • the requirement to ensure that a petrol-ethanol blend, such as E10, is available for retail customers and is as accessible as any other type of petrol offered at the service station.

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.

Update fuel price signs

From 1 January 2017:

  • service stations selling 4 or fewer fuel types must list all their fuel prices on the 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 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.

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I already sell E10. Do I need to do anything further? 

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:

  • ensuring that ethanol blended fuel is made as accessible as any other type of 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 (in the form of petrol-ethanol blend)
  3. the total volume of diesel fuel sold (including biodiesel blend)
  4. the total volume of biodiesel sold (in the form of biodiesel blend)
  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 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.

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Can I get an exemption from a minimum biofuels requirement? 

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 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 Minister 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 has been launched that enables volume fuel retailers to submit online:

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

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.

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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 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.

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I was a volume fuel seller under the previous laws. What do I need to do? 

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.

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 as accessible as any other petrol product ($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 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.

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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 does this affect me? 

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 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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