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Venezuela To Sell Unleaded Gasoline

September 30, 1999

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) _ Venezuela will start selling unleaded gasoline on Friday, years after most countries switched to the more environmentally compatible fuel.

Environment Minister Jesus Arnaldo Perez told reporters that it was unclear why the country with the world’s largest oil reserves outside the Middle East has taken so long to introduce unleaded gasoline.

He said Venezuela, which competes with Saudi Arabia and Mexico as the top foreign supplier of oil to the United States, has been exporting unleaded gasoline for several years.

Only cars manufactured from this year on in Venezuela will be equipped to use unleaded gasoline. Perez estimated that by 2008 about 30 percent of the nation’s vehicles will be using unleaded gasoline.

Despite the nation’s decades-long use of leaded gasoline, environmental officials insisted Thursday that lead levels in the air are within environmentally safe levels even in the worst areas such as the El Silencio neighborhood in downtown Caracas.

Authorities said Venezuela has reduced the amount of lead in its gasoline by two-thirds since 1988.