Petrobras Paraguay, the Secretaria del Ambiente, and the Municipality of Asuncion organized the first ever national seminar on diesel fuels and technology for better air quality in Paraguay - 'Ecofuel' Seminar: Diesel and Technology for Health (Seminario Ecombustible: Diesel y Tecnologia a Favor de la Salud).
Paraguay imports all of its vehicle fuel and current standards in Paraguay limit sulphur in diesel fuels to three grades - 'Type III' 4,000 parts per million (ppm) imported from Venezuela, 2,000 ppm (Type II), and 500 ppm (Type I) imported from Brazil. 79% of road vehicles in the country are diesel and particulate pollution and overall poor air quality is a major health and environment concern in Asuncion. Current legislation applies the same level of taxation on all fuel grades imported, but beginning in 2009 import duty will be heavier for 500 ppm, and lighter moving up to 4,000 ppm thus making the cleaner fuel grades more expensive to consumers.
The national seminar was organized by a multi-stakeholder group comprising of industry and government agencies to draw attention to the role of fuel quality in vehicle emissions and the policies of the former government, initiating a national dialogue on how to proceed and perhaps revise fuel quality standards and incentives. Petrobras Paraguay purchased all downstream operations (fuel stations, distribution network) from Shell in 2006 and is now a competitor to parastatal Petropar - both sell all three diesel grades and the vast majority of vehicle owners consume 4,000 ppm (98%). The change in import duty will further shrink the market for type I and II diesel grades, with consequences on local air quality and vehicle technology imported into the country. The country does not have vehicle emission standards in place and vehicles without catalytic converters are imported despite the banning of leaded gasoline a number of years ago.
The seminar had 500+ participants attending, including the Vice President of the country and the Ministry of Health. All presentations and outcomes of the Seminar available from www.ecombustible.com.py.