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Gulf Marine Fuel provides legal biofuel alternative to ethanol

By Brianna Liestman

Last year, Gulf Racing Fuels introduced its gulf marine product made with isobutanol.

Gulf Racing Fuels is a subset of Gulf, which specializes in off-road fuels for racing, high performance engines, all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, marine and more. The fuel is 12.5 percent isobutanol and 87.5 percent clear non-ethanol gasoline.

Gulf Racing Fuels has been working with Gevo, the renewable supplier of isobutanol, on this product. Gulf Racing Fuels provided some of the fuel to Gevo for use in the testing done by the NMMA.

The NMMA endorsed the fuel created by Gevo and Gulf Racing Fuels this summer, stressing the need for an exception for marine use to the E15 mandate. NMMA gave the warranty statement saying they would warrant the fuel in every system of the boat, and they encouraged and endorsed the use of the Gulf Marine Fuel over ethanol-based gasoline.

“I can’t think of another time when any manufacturer has endorsed one particular fuel over another,” said Jess Hewitt, president of Gulf Racing Fuels. “To me, that was extraordinary. I have never seen an industry group do that.”

Gulf Marine Fuel comes in a factory-sealed drum or five-gallon pail, leaving the fuel impervious to moisture and halts aging until the container is opened.

“Unfortunately, boats don’t have fuel systems like cars that are sealed and are a little bit more impervious to moisture. Cars get away with using ethanol, if though it’s still not great for them,” said Jim Ferraro, co-founder of Parts-Grabber.

The No. 1 concern for the company – and the industry at large – is keeping water out of marine fuel while continuing to meet local legal requirements.

“Isobutanol meets the legal requirements for EPA for ethanol, but it does not have the downside of ethanol in that it does not draw water. You can use it in a vented fuel system with having the issue of drawing water into your fuel system and creating all that damage,” said Ferraro. “Unfortunately, the mainstream pump gas has been going in the wrong direction legislatively, at least in terms of the recreational [marine] crowd. This really helps pull things back in a way that’s favorable for them while still staying within the law.”

The areas of marketing focus for the product have been regions where it is required to use ethanol in the gasoline, the Texas Gulf Coast, the East Coast and California.

“In those areas, there’s no choice that a boater has to use another fuel. But the Gulf Marine [Fuel] – the 93 and the 100 – are both EPA approved to be used in what we call a reformulated gasoline (RFG) area,” said Hewitt. “This fuel is designed to solve problems that boaters have with ethanol gasoline when they have no choice.”

In the long term, Gulf Racing Fuels would like to sell Gulf Marine Fuel at Gulf-branded marinas. The company is looking at 12 marinas to distribute the fuel. The company is also waiting for California to approve 16 percent blends of isobutanol so it can be distributed statewide, as it is currently only approved for off-road.

Gulf Racing Fuels has contacted local print and radio media to alert them about the use of Gulf Marine Fuel in local areas, but much of the promotion has been through grassroots efforts. The company conducts demonstrations at marinas and fuel stations to show ethanol-based fuel side-by-side with Gulf Marine Fuel. It has been the company’s primary method for talking to consumers about using the fuel. Gulf Racing Fuels provides the marina or fuel station owner with all of the necessary equipment to conduct the demonstration on his or her own as well.

For more information on conducting your own demonstration and finding where to buy Gulf Marine Fuel, contact Hewitt at jess@gulfracing.net.

Below is a list of the current marinas and fuel stations where Gulf Marine Fuel is offered.

  • Larsen's Marina
  • Island View Marina
  • Lighthouse Marina
  • Senix Marine
  • Moriches Boat & Motor
  • Foster Blue Water Oil LLC
  • Hudson Point Fishing
  • Bay Park Fishing Station Inc.
  • Uihlein Marina & Boat Rental
  • Thamesport Marina
  • Sag Harbor Cove Yacht Club
  • Mill Creek Marina
  • Annapolis Yacht Basin
  • Sonny's Fishing Station Inc.
  • Cedar Island Marina
  • Cutchogue Harbor Marina
  • Gone Fishing Marina

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