Oil refiners and automakers have been at odds over how much sulfur should be allowed in gasoline, but two players in the debate - BP Amoco and Ford Motor Co. - have buried the hatchet to bring a new low-sulfur fuel to the industry's heartland.

BP Amoco says its Crystal Clear Amoco Ultimate and BP Super 93, which contain 30 parts per million sulfur - about one-tenth typical levels, now will be available in the Detroit area. Detroit joins Atlanta and Chicago as the only U.S. markets to offer the fuel.

To help further the cause, Ford is taking the unusual commitment of specifying the new low-sulfur gasoline as its official "factory fill" (where available) for premium-fueled vehicles.

Reducing gasoline sulfur levels has emerged as an auto industry rallying cry: sulfur "poisons" the reactive materials in catalytic converters, over time reducing their efficiency. With tighter federal emissions standards looming in 2004 - and several states threatening to adopt even tougher California-type regulations, the effectiveness of catalysts is a matter of vital importance to automakers.

BP says the new low-sulfur gasoline will be sold for the same price as its premium unleaded fuel.