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Biodiesel study confirms CTA concerns with blend mandate

Posted: August 1, 2014

OTTAWA — The Canadian Trucking Alliance is hoping a new study will prompt Ottawa to slow down plans to mandate a national two-percent biodiesel standard.

The CTA, which for years have voiced concern with integrating a biodiesel mandate into the current fuel distribution system, commissioned experts MJ Ervin & Associates of Calgary to study the policy further.

In December 2006, the federal Conservatives introduced a notice of intent to develop a federal regulation requiring two B2 fuel content blend (2 percent biodiesel) no later than 201, pending confirmation that this fuel will no have a detrimental impact on truck engines.

In a press release, the CTA explains how the report — entitled Discussion of the Potential Impact of a National Renewable Fuel Mandate on the Canadian Distillate Market — identified a host of potential issues relating to the storage, blending and transportation of biodiesel.

Because biodiesel is not compatible with certain materials, the study found, it has high solvency rate and must be free from water. Therefore, a dedicated storage tank system will have to be created in the various regions. These tanks will also have to be heated to prevent biodiesel gelling.

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As for blending, the choice technique used to achieve a desired biodiesel blend "has important implications with respect to product quality, particularly in cold weather," says CTA. In-line blending at the terminal rack (into a tanker truck) is the best way of producing a biodiesel blend. However, most Canadian terminals are currently not likely to be equipped with such equipment.

Also, in Western and Central Canada, pipelines are the principal method of transporting petroleum product (it’s marine transport in Atlantic Canada). But biodiesel cannot be pipelined because of cross contamination concerns. This will mean a much greater reliance on insulated heated tanker trucks, rails cars or marine tankers to move product normally moved by pipeline, note sthe study.

Furthermore, tanks used to transport biodiesel will have to be either totally or partially dedicated to moving this product alone.

While the report suggests the fuel industry will be motivated to address these issues, recent experience — diesel fuel shortages in Central Canada last year and more recently in Western Canada — makes CTA skeptical.

"It is essential that the issues identified in the report are dealt with prior to the implementation of a biodiesel mandate," says CTA’s CEO, David Bradley. "This will take extensive, multilateral planning with all stakeholders, including the customer which in this case is the trucking industry."

 

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