HC Deb 05 November 1973 vol 863 cc608-9
21. Mr. Rost

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will hold discussions with the oil companies on the subject of phasing out five-star premium petrol in order to conserve aromatics and so ease the shortage of styrene, polystyrene and phenol.

The Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Mr. Peter Emery)

As from the beginning of next year, British motor manufacturers have agreed to phase out production of vehicles requiring five-star petrol, thereby releasing additional amounts of aromatics for the chemical industry.

Mr. Rost

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Is he aware that in considerable areas of British industry there is already a shortage of raw materials derived from oil, such as polystyrene and styrene? Can anything be done to ensure that industry and exports will not be seriously affected until this restriction on five-star petrol, which is a luxury we can no longer afford, is applied?

Mr. Emery

I accept that there are shortages, but the elimination of five-star petrol would permit a marginal increase in the overall petrol production and would release about 300,000 to 400,000 tons of extra aromatics. I must point out that there will be a requirement for 100-octane fuel even though the motor manufacturers will have taken this particular step.

Mr. Maclennan

If that will release only a small amount, what do the Government intend to do to make more available?

Mr. Emery

I am not certain what the hon. Gentleman means by "more available". If he means more aromatics, that, as I am sure he will know, is a matter of refinery policy depending on the split of the barrel, and that depends on the type of crude and the amount of crude available.

Mr. Marten

What contact is the Department having with American industry, which is producing additives which not only reduce pollution but extend the mileage obtained from a gallon of fuel?

Mr. Emery

A certain amount of contact is made on all the factors concerning economy in fuel. The only point one must be careful of is that massive claims are often made for additives, which do not always meet the advertised claims.