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As vehicle emission control technology advances, the oil industry is increasingly being challenged to produce and supply cleaner, better performing hydrocarbon fuels. The environmental consequences of the fuel-vehicle system are a concern for many stakeholders.

IPIECA works with its members to provide a forum to share and develop industry good practice on downstream environmental issues and the promotion of technological and management solutions to reduce GHGs across the production, refining and transportation of oil and gas.

Phasing out leaded gasoline

Since the 1970s, successive governments and regions, including the European Union, have banned gasoline containing lead additives.

Working in partnership with The United Nations Environment Programmes’ (UNEP) Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles (PCFV), IPIECA assisted the oil and gas industry in implementing downstream strategies and resources for phasing out leaded gasoline, including an extensive guide to the issue, Getting the lead out: downstream strategies and resources for phasing out leaded gasoline. Working with over 70 different organizations for well over a decade, this powerful collaboration reduced leaded petrol use from 82 countries to 6, and we are now working in collaboration to remove it altogether from the remaining countries.


Sulphur is naturally present in crude oil, and must be removed to create lower sulphur fuels. The removal processes present large technological and resource challenges.

To assist developing countries in addressing these challenges, IPIECA developed the guidance document Fuel suphur: strategies and options for enabling clean fuels and vehicles, which considers the issues linked to the reduction of sulphur levels in transportation fuels, and discusses appropriate strategies and options to address these issues based on local circumstances.


Mercury was under global scrutiny with the UN leading negotiations to develop a legally binding global treaty on the control of mercury releases. In 2009, UNEP agreed to begin negotiations and convened an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee with the mandate to prepare the instrument and requested that IPIECA provide data on the releases of mercury from the oil and gas sector. In response, IPIECA presented at the Technical Briefing of INC3 the largest publicly available dataset on mercury levels covering 446 Crude Oils and .

Globally Harmonized System

Given the expanding international market in chemical substances and mixtures, a global system of classification and labelling was proposed at the 1992 Earth Summit by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and many other governments and stakeholders. In response, the United Nations developed the ‘Globally Harmonised System’ (GHS) which is a single worldwide system for classifying and communicating the hazardous properties of industrial and consumer substances and mixtures.

The oil and gas industry, represented by IPIECA, was the first sector to present guidance on its products to the UN Sub-Committee of Experts on GHS (UNSCEGHS) in 2010. The guidance document, The application of Globally Harmonized System (GHS) criteria to petroleum substances, has now been revised to include new research on the hazards of petroleum-related substances and constituents.

The updated 2019 IPIECA GHS guidance includes a detailed discussion of a “weight of evidence” (WoE) approach and presents a stepwise path to determining the best data to be used for classification decisions. An updated classification flowchart utilizes a three-tiered approach in which substance-specific toxicity data are considered first, followed by read-across data and then data for hazardous constituents. The updated guidance will be presented to the UNSCEGHS at their December 2019 meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

Marine Fuels

Air pollution from ships causes a cumulative effect that contributes to the overall air quality. Better fuels can reduce emissions and improve air quality.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) regulates shipping on behalf of the United Nations. Their responsibility covers emissions from shipping. IPIECA helps the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to assess the science surrounding proposed changes to the marine fuels regime. It also identifies ways to make cleaner marine fuels more readily available to ship owners around the world. In 2005, a new IMO regulation (MARPOL Annex VI, Regulation 14) limited the amount of sulphur permitted in shipping fuel and this limit has been progressively reduced: the limits applicable in Emission Control Areas (ECAs) were reduced to 0.10%, from 1 January 2015, and under the revised MARPOL Annex VI, the global sulphur cap will be reduced from current 3.50% to 0.50%, effective from 1 January 2020.

IPIECA is working with the IMO and the international shipping community to provide information on these changes during 2019.

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