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Quality of petrol and diesel fuels: sulphur and lead

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Quality of petrol and diesel fuels: sulphur and lead

To improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the European Union (EU) has introduced environmental specifications applicable to fuels: an effective ban on the marketing of leaded petrol and the obligation to make extremely low sulphur fuels available, as well as sustainability and other requirements for biofuels.

ACT

Directive 98/70/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council relating to the quality of petrol and diesel fuels and amending Council Directive 93/12/EEC [See amending acts].

SUMMARY

Types of vehicle covered by the Directive

The Directive sets the technical specifications on health and environmental grounds to be applied to fuels for road vehicles and non-road mobile machinery (including inland waterway vessels when not at sea), agricultural and forestry tractors, and recreational craft when not at sea.

Petrol standards

The standards relating to petrol are detailed in Annex I to the Directive.

Since 2000, the marketing of leaded petrol has been restricted severely. Member States may only continue to permit the marketing of small quantities of leaded petrol, with a lead content not exceeding 0.15 g/l, to a maximum of 0.03 % of total sales, to be used by old vehicles of a characteristic nature and to be distributed through special interest groups.

Member States may only place on the market petrol that complies with the requirements of Annex I. The maximum content of ethanol is limited at 10%.

The use of metallic additive methylcyclopentadienyl manganese tricarbonyl (MMT) in fuel was limited to 6 mg of manganese per litre from 1 January 2011. This limit was reduced to 2 mg of manganese per litre from 1 January 2014.

Member States must provide a protection grade for petrol with 5% of ethanol when introducing petrol with 10% of ethanol.

Derogations may be applied for the outermost regions for the introduction of petrol with a maximum sulphur content of 10 mg/kg.

Member States also have the option to place on the market petrol with a higher vapour pressure during the summer period. This derogation can be requested due to lower summer temperature or blending higher levels of ethanol in petrol. However, the Commission must assess the desirability and duration of the derogation.

Diesel standards

The standards relating to diesel fuel are detailed in Annex II to the Directive.

Member States can introduce a higher fatty-acid methyl ester (FAME) content in their country if all the others parameters of Annex II are respected.

The sulphur content of gas oils intended for use by non-road mobile machinery must not exceed 1 000 mg/kg. From 1 January 2011, the sulphur content must not exceed 10mg/kg.

However, certain derogations are possible for the outermost regions and for Member States with severe winter weather. In the case of the latter, the maximum distillation point of 65 % at 250 oC for diesel fuels and gas oils may be replaced by a maximum distillation point of 10 % at 180 oC.

Greenhouse gas emissions reductions

Fuel suppliers are designated by Member States to be responsible for monitoring and reporting life cycle greenhouse gas emissions per unit of energy from fuel and energy supplied.

With effect from 1 January 2011, suppliers shall report annually, to the authority designated by the Member State, on the greenhouse gas intensity of fuel and energy supplied within each Member State

Suppliers are required to gradually reduce life cycle greenhouse gas emissions by 6 % by 31 December 2020. The Directive provides optional, intermediate objectives for the course of this time period.

Reporting

Member States shall monitor compliance with the requirements of Articles 3 (petrol) and 4 (diesel) in respect of petrol and diesel fuels, on the basis of the analytical methods referred to in European standards EN 228 and EN 590 respectively.

Member States must establish a fuel quality monitoring system in accordance with the requirements of the relevant European standard. The use of an alternative fuel quality monitoring system may be permitted provided that such a system ensures results of equivalent confidence.

Each year by 30 June, the Member States shall submit a report of national fuel quality data for the preceding calendar year.

Biofuels: sustainability criteria

Biofuels must meet mandatory sustainability criteria, set out in the Directive in Article 7b, in order to count towards the greenhouse gas reduction target referred to above. These include that the biofuels should not come from areas of high biodiversity or high carbon stock and must make specified greenhouse gas reductions relative to fossil fuels.

REFERENCES

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 98/70/EC

28.12.1998

1.7.1999

OJ L 350 of 28.12.1998

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2000/71/EC

4.12.2000

1.1.2001

OJ L 287 of 14.11.2000

Directive 2003/17/EC

22.3.2003

30.6.2003

OJ L 76 of 22.3.2003

Regulation (EC) No 1882/2003

20.11.2003

-

OJ L 284 of 31.10.2003

Directive 2009/30/EC

25.6.2009

31.12.2010

OJ L 140 of 5.6.1010

The successive amendments and corrections to Directive 98/70/EC have been incorporated in the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

RELATED ACTS

REPORTS

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council concerning Art 8a of Directive 98/70/EC relating to the quality of petrol and diesel fuels and amending Council Directive 93/12/EEC. [COM(2013) 456 final of 26.6.2013 - not published in the Official Journal].

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council: Quality of petrol and diesel fuel used for road transport in the European Union: Eleventh annual report [COM(2014) 127 final of 10.3.2014 - not published in the Official Journal].

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council: Quality of petrol and diesel fuel used for road transport in the European Union: Tenth annual report [COM(2013) 458 final of 26.6.2013 - not published in the Official Journal].

Report from the Commission - Quality of petrol and diesel fuel used for road transport in the European Union: Ninth annual report (Reporting year 2010) [COM(2012) 749 final of 13.12.2012 - not published in the Official Journal].

Report from the Commission - Quality of petrol and diesel fuel used for road transport in the European Union: Eighth annual report (Reporting year 2009) [COM(2012) 127 final of 23.3.2012 - not published in the Official Journal].

Report from the Commission - Quality of petrol and diesel fuel used for road transport in the European Union: Seventh annual report (Reporting year 2008) [COM(2011) 116 final of 11.3.2011- not published in the Official Journal].

Report from the Commission - Quality of petrol and diesel fuel used for road transport in the European Union: Sixth annual report (Reporting year 2007) [COM(2011) 113 final of 11.3.2011- not published in the Official Journal].

Report from the Commission - Quality of petrol and diesel fuel used for road transport in the European Union: Fifth annual report (Reporting year 2006) [COM(2008) 799 final of 1.12.2008 - not published in the Official Journal].

Report from the Commission - Quality of petrol and diesel fuel used for road transport in the European Union: Fourth annual report (Reporting year 2005) [COM(2007) 617 final of 17.10.2007 - not published in the Official Journal].

Report from the Commission - Quality of petrol and diesel fuel used for road transport in the European Union - Third annual report (Reporting year 2004) [COM(2006) 186 final of 28.4.2006 - not published in the Official Journal].

Report from the Commission - Quality of petrol and diesel fuel used for road transport in the European Union - Second annual report (Reporting year 2003) [COM(2005) 69 final of 2.3.2005 - not published in the Official Journal].

Report from the Commission - Quality of gasoline and diesel fuel used for road transport in the European Union - First annual report (Reporting years 2001 and 2002) [COM(2004) 310 final of 27.4.2004 - not published in the Official Journal].

RECOMMENDATION

2005/27/EC: Commission Recommendation of 12 January 2005 on what, for the purposes of Directive 98/70/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning petrol and diesel fuels, constitutes availability of unleaded petrol and diesel fuel with a maximum sulphur content on an appropriately balanced geographical basis [Official Journal L 15 of 19.1.2005].

Last updated: 19.05.2014

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