Enforcement Advisory: #163: Imorter Requirements for Importing Motor Vehicle Gasoline into California

This page last reviewed March 3, 2009


Importer Requirements for Importing Motor Vehicle Gasoline into California

Number 163

October 30, 1998


The California Cleaner Burning Gasoline, also known as Reformulated Gasoline (CaRFG), regulations contained in Sections 2260 through 2272 of Title 13 of the California Code of Regulations (CCR), specify standards for gasoline produced, imported, transferred, used or sold for motor vehicle use in California. The regulations also specify compliance options, restrictions, and reporting requirements that producers and importers must follow in complying with the regulations.

This advisory points out pertinent sections of the regulations that importers should be aware of and further clarify some provisions. Any importer of gasoline into California should refer to the complete gasoline regulations which are now available at the Air Resources Board (ARB) website at http://www.arb.ca.gov/enf/advs/fuelsadvlist.htm.

Before importing gasoline into California, the importer must first be registered with the ARB as a Certified Motor Vehicle Fuel Distributer as required under Section 43021 of the California Health and Safety Code. A Motor Vehicle Fuel Distributor application form can be obtained from the ARB's Compliance Division by calling 916-322-2056.

The RFG standards consist primarily of a set of stringent limits for eight different properties that apply to each batch of gasoline when it is supplied from the production facility (typically a refinery) or import facility at which it was produced or imported. The "import facility" is the facility (often a marine terminal) at which imported gasoline is first received in California, and the "importer" is the person or entity that first accepts delivery of the gasoline in California. All of the compliance mechanisms that are available to a refiner supplying a batch of gasoline from a refinery are also available to an entity supplying imported gasoline from an import facility.

Producers and importers have several choices on how their gasoline can meet the California standards. For most of the regulated properties such as sulfur content, either they can have each batch meet the same "flat" limit specified in the regulations, or they can assign different "Designated Alternative Limits" (DALs) to different batches and meet a more stringent "averaging" limit for the property on average. In addition, they can comply using the California Predictive Model (PM), which allows an importer to set batch-specific limits for most of the different properties as long as the Predictive Model shows that the overall emissions of air pollutants from the batch will be no greater than the emissions from gasoline meeting all of the flat limits in the regulations. When using the Predictive Model they can also have averaging standards apply for some of the properties. Throughout the gasoline distribution system, California gasoline is also subject to a set of generally less stringent "cap" limits for each of the CaRFG regulated properties. No matter what compliance option the refiner or importer uses, no batch of gasoline supplied from an import facility may exceed any of the cap limits.

Section 2264.2 specifies the procedures, restrictions, and reporting requirements for gasoline that is subject to the standard California flat limits or where the standards are averaged among batches of gasoline. Similarly, Section 2265 covers the restrictions and requirements for gasoline complying under the Predictive Model for both the PM flat limits and PM averaging. For complete details for each of the above options regarding the procedures, restrictions, and reporting requirements, check the appropriate sections of the regulation.

In many cases, an importer will be required to notify the ARB of the compliance option being used and the specific limits that apply to a particular batch of gasoline being supplied from the import facility. For importers complying with the PM compliance option using all flat limits, only the first batch needs to be reported. It is also advisable for a new importer supplying an initial batch of gasoline with all standard flat limits to report. Further reporting is necessary only if changing the compliance option or changing to a different set of PM flat limits. For DAL averaging with or without the Predictive Model, every batch transferred from the import facility needs to be reported including the volume of the batch. Again check the appropriate sections of the regulations for details. Attached is a sample generic reporting form as an example for notifying the ARB of its PM compliance option.

When notification regarding a given batch of imported gasoline is required, it must be received by the ARB before the start of physical transfer of the gasoline from the import facility and in no case less than 12 hours before the importer completes transfer or commingles the final blend. Note that the 12 hour notice for imported diesel fuel where DAL averaging is used is slightly different: the diesel notice must be received by the ARB at least 12 hours before the start of transfer. The purpose of the 12 hour notice is to give the ARB the option of sampling and testing the product before it is completely transferred or commingled. Notification should be addressed to the Executive Officer and should be faxed to the ARB's Enforcement Division at 916-445-0884, or to the backup fax at 916-445-5745. In case of problems with both fax machines, a voice mail message may be left at 916-327-2942. This phone number can also be used for any questions or problems concerning RFG.

The ARB will allow an importer to specify the ship carrying the imported cargo (or individual compartments) as the import facility for purposes of the gasoline and diesel fuel regulations as long as the importer enters into a simple protocol with the ARB. Where gasoline imported by cargo tank truck is delivered directly to service stations, the regulation states that the cargo tank truck is the import facility. Any producer or importer experiencing difficulty meeting the reporting requirements due to special operating practices may consider entering into a protocol with the ARB for the purpose of specifying how certain reporting requirements shall be applied to the producer's or importer's particular operation.

In the past, the Compliance Division has issued other advisories concerning RFG which an importer may want to read. Specifically, Advisory #137 identifies pertinent information on RFG averaging as well as including a sample DAL reporting form. Advisory #152 summarizes in a table format the motor vehicle fuel standards, test methods, and reproducibilities used in California RFG testing. Advisory #159 discusses the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) of California gasoline. The RVP regulation is seasonal and geographical. Consequently, an importer may want to review this advisory for the dates and affected areas. These advisories and others are available on the ARB's website at http://www.arb.ca.gov/enf/advs/advlist.htm. If you do not have access to the internet, you can obtain copies by calling the Enforcement Division at 916-322-6022.

Another ARB regulation, Section 2257, Title 13, CCR, provides for ARB certification of gasoline containing sufficient deposit control additives to avoid intake valve and fuel injector deposits. For all California gasoline, the producer, importer or distributor must have a currently effective deposit control additive certification and the gasoline must contain at least the certified minimum concentration of the additive. In addition, Section 2253.4 prohibits lead in gasoline, and Section 2254 prohibits manganese and MMT additives.

Be aware that the CCR also contains another gasoline regulation in Title 4, Section 4140, that specifies other standards and test methods. These standards are enforced by the California Department of Food and Agriculture's Division of Measurement Standards.

If you have any questions about this advisory, please contact Mr. Mark Stover, Manager, Fuels Enforcement Section at (916) 322-2056. Written inquiries may be addressed to:

James R. Ryden, Chief
Enforcement Division
California Air Resources Board
P.O. Box 2815, Sacramento, CA 95812