LEAD Action News
LEAD Action News vol 8 no 1, 2000, ISSN 1324-6011
Incorporating Lead Aware Times ( ISSN 1440-4966) and Lead Advisory Service News ( ISSN 1440-0561)
The Journal of The LEAD (Lead Education and Abatement Design) Group Inc.

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Shell’s Innovations re: Leaded Petrol Phase-out in Australia

The Shell Company of Australia Limited has a history of innovation in fuels. When the Federal Government announced in the late 1970s that all petrol-engine cars sold in Australia after 1985 would need to be fitted with catalytic converters and run on unleaded petrol, Shell was first into the market place with unleaded petrol.

The company launched its new fuel in Melbourne in March 1986, several months ahead of the deadline set by government. Shell branded unleaded petrol Ultra and that became the generic term for the new fuel in Australia.

Later in 1986, following extensive market research, Shell responded to the demand of some customers for a higher octane unleaded petrol and released Shell Ultra-Hi, the first premium unleaded on the Australian market.

This fuel was sought by drivers of high performance cars and those who wished to give their unleaded vehicles a ‘treat’ from time to time.

Over the past decade, the formulation of both unleaded and premium unleaded have varied only slightly through changing performance additives. Shell Ultra and Shell Ultra-Hi brand names have disappeared to be replaced by the generic names unleaded and premium unleaded.

Shell was also the first company to change the name of its ‘super’ fuel to ‘leaded’.

In 1994 Shell responded to a government directive to reduce the quantity of lead in leaded petrol by slashing lead to less than half the minimum allowed by government. On February 1 that year Shell sites in Victoria and NSW were stocked with ‘half lead’.

The launch of Shell ‘half lead’ was an environmental and marketing success made possible by massive investment in Shell’s refineries at Geelong in Victoria and Clyde in NSW. It was suitable for use in all pre-1986 cars that previously ran on leaded petrol.

Shell remains committed to phasing out leaded petrol and in August 1999 Shell became the first oil company to launch lead replacement petrol in Australia, with its introduction in Perth. This was within four weeks of the WA Premier’s statement that no leaded petrol would be sold in that state as of January 2000.

Shell seized the initiative, launching lead replacement petrol (LRP), a new petrol which maintained all the power of leaded petrol together with an additive that the RAC of WA said "…provided the best anti-wear properties."

Western Australian Environment Minister, The Hon. Cheryl Edwardes MLA, on 31st August 1999, launched Shell’s new lead-free petrol, Lead Replacement Petrol (LRP), for use in cars that would normally run on leaded fuel.

Bruce Rosengarten, Shell’s Managing Director, Retail said, "We’re very excited that Shell in WA is leading the country to a cleaner and healthier environment.

"Our customers who use leaded petrol have for some time been telling us that they’d rather use a lead free petrol so that they too can contribute to a better environment. This was always contingent upon being assured that the petrol was just as good for their car. Shell’s LRP does just that. It is a better fuel.

"Approximately one in four vehicles in WA currently run on leaded petrol and for the first time these drivers will have the choice of using a lead-free petrol with an appropriate additive," said Mr Rosengarten.

Shell Commercial Manager in Western Australia, Mr Craig James said that Shell Lead Replacement Petrol (LRP) had been developed to provide engine protection to many pre-1986 cars by replacing lead with an additive, which had been approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and tested extensively overseas.

The launch of Shell Optimax is the most revolutionary in this long line of recent petrol initiatives from Shell to ensure that fuel technology keeps pace with the engine technology being developed by car manufacturers around the world.

On October 5th 1999, Shell claimed an Australian first by launching Optimax, a revolutionary High Density High Octane (HDHO) unleaded petrol that is suitable for all unleaded and most leaded petrol-engine vehicles.

Initially the new fuel will be sold in more than 100 sites in Victoria, but should become available throughout most of Australia during 2000. Optimax can be used in conjunction with leaded petrol in the ratio 2 tanks:1 tank, or with Valvoline valve lubricant which can be added at the pump, in those cars requiring lubrication due to the lack of hardened valves.


1986 Ultra (Unleaded), and Ultra Hi (premium unleaded) introduced.
1994 Half Lead introduced and the name "Leaded Petrol given to what was formerly called "Super".
(August) Lead Replacement Petrol and (October) Shell Optimax [also a lead-replacement petrol] introduced.

For further information contact:

Rob Hart, Shell Public Affairs
Ph. (03) 9666 5615
or visit:  www.shell.com.au

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