Octane is regulated in various regions and countries using different approaches. Many countries establish minimum RON and MON levels for gasoline, whereas AKI is typically used in the Americas. Generally, it is required that refueling pumps indicate the octane level being sold as vehicle technologies require different octane and one or more grades can be found at the pump. Stratas Advisors is pleased to present current market octane share by country, which includes historical data dating as far back as 2010 and has been updated since the last report (see Insights, Aug. 6, 2020).
Notably across the world, current gasoline octane grades range widely from RON 80 to RON 110, or AKI 81 to 91 in the Americas. Several countries have two or more grades available on their markets, while a number of African countries have only one gasoline grade on their markets including Nigeria (RON 91), Libya (RON 95), etc. As of 2020-2021, Indonesia and Iraq have the highest number of gasoline grades on their markets with a total of six grades each. In addition, the countries of Kazakhstan, Peru and Russia have as many as five gasoline grades on each of their markets. Furthermore, countries such as China, Kyrgyzstan, Paraguay, Philippines and Turkey have four gasoline grades available on their markets. Over the past year, a couple of countries like Tajikistan and Ukraine have reduced their number of grades from four to three, due to the phase out of lower octane grades like RON 80 (see figure below).
Historical Octane Market Share in Tajikistan and Ukraine
Source: Stratas Advisors, September 2021
Generally, it is observed across the world that regular grades have an octane rating ranging from RON 80 to RON 97 (or AKI 81 to 87), while premium grades have an octane rating ranging from RON 90 to RON 110 (or AKI 87 to 91). For example, the regular grade in Europe is often RON 95 while in the CIS, it ranges from RON 80 to 95. Regular grades often dominate the gasoline pool due to their cheaper price, and are thus more popular with consumers.
Exceptions apply to the following nine countries, where their premium grade gasoline is found to be more popular than regular grade gasoline: Brunei, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Oman, Panama, Qatar and Thailand.
Lower Octane Gasoline Grades
Lower octane grades, with octane number lower than RON 90 or AKI 85, are still available for use in motorcycles, very old vehicles or off-road applications such as fishing boats, agricultural machinery or small spark-ignition engines of non-road mobile machinery (NRMM). They are continued to be used primarily in the developing regions of Africa, Latin America, Russia & CIS and parts of Asia Pacific and the Middle East. For example, in Indonesia, RON 88 is used primarily by motorcycles. Low octane gasoline grades fully dominate the gasoline pools of Bolivia and Yemen, while they account for the majority of gasoline pools in Colombia, Ecuador and Iran.
Generally, these are the reasons behind the continued use of lower octane grades:
- Availability of a cheaper grade to consumers as compared to higher octane grades which are more expensive. This applies to several developing countries;
- Old refineries with slow or no upgrades are not able to increase octane without compromising gasoline supply, and have chosen to keep the octane limit low;
- Lack of domestic supply of octane enhancers (e.g. CIS countries); and
- They act as a protective grade for very old on-road vehicles especially those in the developing countries. For example, Egypt has vehicles as old as 50 years old and continues to have RON 80 available on its market.
However, a number of countries have phased out gasoline grades with octane levels lower than RON 90, or replace them with higher octane grades. Countries such as Egypt and Indonesia also plan to gradually or eventually phase out gasoline grades with octane levels lower than RON 90. In the CIS region, Belarus already phased out the use of RON 80 gasoline since 2017. Market share of RON 80 is continuing to decrease in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia, while the grade no longer exists in Tajikistan and Ukraine as of 2020.