BP's Opal story
Opal fuel is a low-aromatic unleaded fuel that doesn't contain the properties that create a high when sniffed. BP developed Opal low-aromatic fuel after receiving a letter in 2002 from a concerned person in an impacted community, asking if we could do anything to help tackle petrol sniffing.
Opal is a direct substitute for regular unleaded 91
Opal is a direct substitute for regular unleaded 91, delivering comparable performance. It can be used in cars, boats and other engines. It’s safe to mix with regular unleaded 91, or higher octane fuels, and can be stored in the same way. As it is subsidised under the Australian Government’s Petrol Sniffing Prevention Program, Opal should be priced at an equivalent to the local price for regular unleaded 91. Opal fuel conforms to the National Fuels Quality Standards Act 2000. All fuels sold in Australia must comply with this legislation and all vehicles that are manufactured or imported to Australia must be able to satisfactorily operate on these standards.
Advanced fuel technology
Opal fuel has been specifically formulated to clean deposits on critical parts of your engine as you drive, helping to break down these deposits and prevent new deposits from forming. Independent laboratory testing showed that Opal fuel cleaned up to 20.8% (with an average of 10.6%) of existing sooty deposits which had formed on vital engine parts such as inlet valves.
Testing Opal fuel
Before its launch, Opal fuel was extensively tested independently in laboratories and in the field, as well as by toxicologists to assess its performance in cars, boats and engines. Although it is low-aromatic, Opal still contains some volatile substances and should not be inhaled, as it can have adverse health effects and in extreme cases, may cause suffocation and death. Opal fuel was also independently tested to assess its chemical composition when coming into contact with a polystyrene cup. The addition of polystyrene to Opal fuel did not increase the toxicity of the fuel.
Opal fuel toxicity testing
Price & availability
Opal fuel should cost the same as regular unleaded at service stations where it has replaced regular unleaded 91. Opal is subsidised under the Australian Government’s Petrol Sniffing Prevention Program, which means that it should be priced at an equivalent to the local price for regular unleaded 91. Regular unleaded 91 has been replaced with Opal at selected sites in South Australia, Western Australian Goldfields and throughout central Australia. Premium unleaded petrol is still available at your local service station, although:
- Bowsers may be locked when not in use
- Sales may be monitored
- Retailers may not sell it in small containers
Opal in cars
Opal fuel is suitable for all vehicles that require regular unleaded 91 as a minimum. Only vehicles that require a premium unleaded fuel with an octane rating of 95 or higher should not use Opal. Vehicles built before 1986 may require a lead replacement additive. Opal fuel has been specifically formulated to clean deposits on critical parts of your engine as you drive, helping to break down these deposits and prevent new deposits from forming. Independent laboratory testing showed that Opal fuel cleaned up to 20.8 per cent of existing sooty deposits which had formed on vital engine parts such as inlet valves. This means Opal fuel helps your engine work to its greatest potential.
Opal was extensively tested before its launch into communities in 2005. One part of this testing included independent laboratory testing at the Toyota Vehicle and Engine Testing Laboratory in Melbourne. Four tests were undertaken on a Toyota Avalon 3.0 litre Automatic, a Ford Falcon Futura 4.0 litre Automatic and a Holden Commodore 3.5 litre Automatic. The test concentrated on driveability, tailpipe emissions, impact on air quality and fuel economy:
There is no significant difference between a vehicle running on Opal fuel, and the same vehicle running on regular unleaded 91.
Tail pipe emissions
There are exhaust emission benefits from using Opal fuel. Overall, cars that were run on Opal fuel tested lower for regulated exhaust emissions.
Impact on air quality
The typical vehicle exhaust toxics indices for regular unleaded 91 are between 19 and 22. Opal fuel showed a reduction of 45% in comparison, with between 9 and 12.
Opal fuel operated within normal variability for petrol grades with 0.3 litres per 100km. This is a very minor decrease in fuel economy against regular unleaded 91. This can also vary depending on car maintenance and driving styles.
Cleaning power of Opal
Additional testing in 2010 investigated the cleaning power of Opal and was conducted at the Orbital independent laboratory in Perth on a split fuel Toyota Aurion V6 engine.
Inlet valve using ordinary fuel
Inlet valve using Opal fuel
Opal testing in vehicles
Opal in boats
Opal fuel is suitable for use in boats if the manufacturer recommends regular unleaded 91. Opal fuel offers equivalent performance to regular unleaded 91, as proven through independent laboratory testing, as well as field testing.
"The field trial demonstrated clearly that Opal was safe to use without the need for an additional additive."Alex Julius, well-known Northern Territory angler
Independent testing on outboard engines was conducted at Orbital’s Perth laboratory to determine whether running Opal fuel had any detrimental effect on engines. Opal fuel was used to run a boat engine for five hours a day over three consecutive days. There was no significant change seen in the condition of the inlet ports, valves, fuel injectors or spark plugs nor a significant reduction in flow rate which would indicate fouling. Testing on the field was also undertaken to ensure that the results for Opal fuel were equally demonstrable outside the laboratory. The testing evaluated the engine’s performance and smoke output when in idle, mid-power and with the throttle wide open on an Evinrude 115HP E-TEC outboard engine. The engine did not experience hard-starting or rough running when using Opal and engine stability at an operation mode of 2200-2500rpm even appeared to improve.
Opal testing in boats
Advice from manufacturers
Chris Leask, Manager, Honda Customer Relation and Warranty Operations, and Matrin Dwyer, Manager, Yamaha Warranty and Customer Relations give advice which approves the use of Opal as a substitute for regular unleaded 91 and won’t void the warranty.
Opal in small engines
Opal has advantages over regular unleaded petrol and premium petrol due to its low aroma and high additive treatment. Opal low-aromatic fuel in small engines is comparable to regular unleaded petrol and has lower exhaust toxics, better anti-knock properties and better cleanliness.
The Orbital test facility in Perth tested small two and four stroke engines including, a four-stroke generator, a two-stroke line trimmer and a two-stroke lawn mower. During the small engine testing, fuel consumption, power output and spark plug condition were monitored. All cases demonstrated comparable results when small engines were operated on Opal fuel. During testing, the performance from Opal was equivalent or better on the small engines tested.
Line trimmer spark plugs using ordinary fuel
Line trimmer spark plugs using Opal fuel
Because of the unique properties of Opal fuel, it should be used with less oil in the mix than you would use with regular unleaded. During small engine testing, the engines were run using 28 parts Opal to 1 part oil two-stroke mix in place of the normal 25 parts fuel to 1 part oil. There were no negative effects during testing. The line trimmer was run at 55 parts Opal to 1 part oil instead of 50 parts fuel to 1 part oil. Again, no negative effects were observed during testing. Our small engine testing indicates engines can run satisfactorily on a lower oil content when using Opal fuel compared to regular unleaded petrol. Consult your engine manufacturer for more information.
Before using your equipment
- Always ensure the fuel you use meets the engine manufacturer’s minimum octane requirements
- Observe safe fuel handling practices
- As with all fuels, always start off with fresh fuel or mixes
- Run the fuel tank to one third full when finishing a job, this will allow for room to add fresh fuel for next time
- As always store your fuel in approved containers, for example those marked as meeting AS 2906
- As with all fuels, store your fuel in a safe, temperature stable location and out of reach of small children
For more information visit the troubleshooting section of the website below.
Commercial fuel customers
Customers can purchase Opal fuel in bulk throughout the BP retail network using a BP Plus card. The commercial fuels team can also arrange bulk supply.
For a list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding Opal fuel, please click below.
Phone (technical help): 1300 139 700