In Conversation
September 2016

In Conversation with: Delegates

The Asian Clean Fuel Association (ACFA) co-hosted a roundtable workshop on “Phasing out Leaded Gasoline in Iraq and Promoting Vehicle Fuel Efficiency”, together with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Centre for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe (CEDARE) in Singapore on 29- and 30-August 2016. The workshop was attended by a number of key representatives from the Iraqi Ministry of Oil, the Ministry of Environment and COSQC (Central Organization for Standardization and Quality Control).

The key objectives for the workshop were for the Iraqi government to look into phasing out lead and to reduce Sulphur in order to draw up a roadmap for the implementation of the Euro 5 emission standards. The workshop emphasized that upgrading local refineries is a prerequisite to achieve this. Additionally, delegates were presented with the facts on how ethers like MTBE could be considered as one of the most cost effective solutions to meet these vital targets.

The challenges that Iraq faces are plentiful and the workshop was received as useful by all participants to identify and encourage a closer intra-ministerial coordination to achieve the goals. The Iraqi delegation expressed their gratitude to have the support of UNEP, CEDARE and ACFA in this effort and will continue to work on this path.

We interviewed the delegates at the end of the event and we are pleased to share their views and replies to our questions with our readers.

Q: As an introductory question for our readers, we would like to understand who the roundtable delegates at the August 29, 30 2016 Iraq workshop on fuel quality improvements are and which government departments they represent.


Mr Mansoor Abdulmajeed
Jaleel Al-Jumaa
Ministry of Oil (MoO)
Mr Majeed Ejbair Tuaib
Ministry of Oil
Ms Hanaa Mahmoud Habib Al-Jadda Ministry of Oil
Mr Essam Saeed Assi Al-Shohani COSQC
Mr Majid Ahmed Shamkhi Al-Ghanimi Ministry of Environment (MoE)
Mr Waleed Ali Hussein Al-Mihyawi Ministry of Environment

Q: We understand the workshop was jointly organized by UNEP PCFV (United Nations Environment Programme through the partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles), ACFA (Asian Clean Fuels Organization) and CEDARE (Centre for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe) in order to assist the Iraqi government on technical matters related to the desired fuel quality improvements in the country. What were your main objectives for the workshop? Which key challenges were raised and addressed?

A: The Ministry of Oil has already stopped using lead in gasoline (In its presentation during the workshop MoO showed that the use of lead has been banned from imported fuels and has been minimized in domestic refineries). There are many projects to be implemented in the future, to produce upgraded products and to support the phasing out of TEL (tetraethyl lead).

The main challenges are to implement the decisions on the ground which require the support and assistance from investors due to the global crisis and lack of liquidity in the country.  

The Ministry of Environment is considering octane enhancement alternatives by looking at MTBE, Ethanol and metallic additives, with MTBE being the component of choice to be likely. Drafting emission standards to reach Euro 5 in order to align Iraq with global specifications is the key objective. MTBE is likely to be the best candidate in support of the development of a Euro 5 roadmap.

The main challenges for the intra-ministerial committee currently are

  • drafting of legislation and roadmap,
  • selecting low impact octane enhancer to environment, health and engine,
  • disposal of TEL in storage,
  • dependence on upgrading, funding and timing of refineries.

Q: Phasing out lead in petrol and introducing low-sulphur fuels in the country appear to be the first key challenges to overcome. Did the roundtable manage to develop an action plan to implement this and can you share any details with us on how and when this is now intended to be implemented?

A: The current fuel standard specification sets the maximum concentration of Sulphur at 100ppm (gasoline) and 8000-12000ppm (Diesel). The planned future requirement for 2019 is 10ppm for both, gasoline and Diesel.

The lead contents in gasoline is currently 0.03 mg/l with August 2016 actuals showing a lead contents of 0.008g Pb/litre.

Imported fuels are required to meet Sulphur specification at 100ppm max for gasoline and 500ppm max for Diesel, and to be “unleaded”.  

Q: With most countries worldwide striving to adopt the European emission standards, did the workshop look into this? Apart from the two key issues raised in Q3, has a long-term roadmap been developed to implement standards like EURO V or equivalent? Apart from the intended fuel quality improvements, vehicle standards need to be adjusted to the new requirements as well. Can you share any details of the government’s plan to coordinate the course of action with us?

A: Information is being shared between the various departments and proposed drafts are being exchanged. Environmental requirements are to be added to the drafts.

COSQC referred in its presentation to gasoline standard no. 455 (new) which has been derived from EN228/2012

No. Name of Standard Number of Standard Ratio of Lead Ratio of Sulphur
15 Gasoline 455

455 (new)

According to EN228/2012 and marketing specifications guide of Iraqi petroleum products 2013

a- 0.8 g/L max
a- 0.8 g/L max
a- 0.5 g/L max

a- 5.0 ppm max
a- 5.0 ppm max
b- 5.0 ppm max
c- 0.2% max
a- 0.2% max
a- 0.15% max

a- 100 ppm max
a- 100 ppm max
a- 100 ppm max

(source: SOSQC presentation at workshop)

Q: What will be the main challenges for the domestic oil industry to comply with the new requirements? What kind of fiscal and legislative support will be required to achieve the ambitious targets?

A: We have developed numerous upgrading projects for the refineries in order to produce products and qualities which meet the new requirements. What we need most right now are investments and deferred payment facilities. Projects for the Kirkuk, Messan and Naseria refineries will increase the supply in terms of volume and quality. Other isomerization and FCC projects also require funding.

Q: Apart from necessary investments into the refining industry which other options have been considered to achieve the relevant quality standards? Are there any “Clean Fuel” blending components being directly considered, for domestic production or importation?

A: Importing lead-free gasoline helps us to comply with the required fuel standards in Iraq. The lead contents in domestically produced gasoline has been gradually reduced to levels well below the required norm. Sulphur levels are limited to 100ppm today and will be further reduced to 10ppm with the new specification.

Q: Did any other topics emerge during the roundtable meeting which need to be addressed in order to set the plan in motion? What are the next action points directly derived from the meeting?

A: The MoO is awaiting the decision by the multi-ministerial committee which will decide the suitable path forward. With the approval from the cabinet adequate purchasing projects can be implemented.  

Q: We very much appreciate your contribution to this interview and we would like to provide you the opportunity to convey a message to our readers by addressing any other topics you may wish to raise which have not been captured in our questions.  

A: Iraq needs to scale up the domestic fuel production and achieve better quality standards for which investments are required to realize the various projects.  

Iraq will need the assistance from organizations such as ACFA, UNEP and CEDARE to achieve lower emissions in the country. The cooperation between the Ministry of Oil, the Ministry of Environment and COSQC needs to be intensified and the direct involvement of the Ministry of Environment in COSQC committees and panels needs to be enlarged.

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