Central America: Council Collaborates On Fuel Specifications

For more than three years, the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) has worked with Central America’s Integration System (SICA), the institutional framework of regional integration in Central America, to conduct technical programs addressing the implementation of ethanol blending.

The most recent program took place in May, when the Council’s Latin America (LTA) regional office hosted a program on fuel specifications, helping members of SICA’s hydrocarbons committee better understand the implications of ethanol use.

While there have been several attempts to incorporate ethanol blending in gasoline in Central America, it has been met with resistance from fuel supply chain stakeholders, many of whom raise technical issues, including existing gasoline parameters, as an argument against ethanol blending.

“Being able to participate in the review and alignment of the regional fuels and biofuels policy with U.S. and international standards is a key requisite for the Council to succeed in facilitating the flow of U.S. ethanol to Central America,” said Carlos Suarez, the USGC LTA regional ethanol consultant who led the program.

More than 15 officials from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and the Dominican Republic joined the virtual workshop, during which three international experts on fuel specifications and gasoline quality presented on the foundations of fuel specifications; reviewed fuel quality in Central American countries; and explored selected cases of gasoline specifications optimized for ethanol use.

During the program, USGC Regional Technical Expert Rowena Torres-Ordoñez highlighted the importance of adopting a systems approach to establishing fuel specifications, creating integrated standards and encouraging all stakeholders to participate in the process.

The Council will continue to work with SICA, governments and other stakeholders across the region to support the implementation of ethanol policies and the development of the appropriate regulatory frameworks to enable them.