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Quality of petrol and diesel fuels: sulphur and lead

Quality of petrol and diesel fuels: sulphur and lead

 

SUMMARY OF:

Directive 98/70/EC on the quality of petrol and diesel fuels

WHAT IS THE AIM OF THE DIRECTIVE?

  • It sets EU-wide standards for petrol and diesel used in cars, trucks and other off-road vehicles to protect human health and the environment, including a ban on lead in petrol and a limit of sulphur content in diesel fuels.
  • It requires fuel suppliers to gradually reduce life cycle greenhouse gas emissions from fuel or energy supplied by 6% by 2020 compared to a 2010 fossil fuel baseline.
  • It impacts the blending of alternative fuels of non-fossil origin in petrol and diesel blends used in road transport, as well as to gas oils used in non-road mobile machinery*, agricultural and forestry tractors, inland waterborne and recreational crafts when not at sea.

KEY POINTS

Petrol

  • EU countries can only place on the market petrol that complies with the specifications in Annex I of the directive. These specifications are used when marketing petrol sold in the EU.
  • EU countries can only market petrol with very small quantities of lead for use only by old vehicles. The lead content can be no higher than 0.15g/l, and can only constitute a maximum of 0.03% of total sales.
  • Certain EU countries have the option of placing on the market petrol with higher vapour pressure during the summer if the ambient temperature is low or if there are higher blends of ethanol in the petrol (which results in lower vapour pressure). The European Commission must assess the duration and desirability of these exceptions.

Diesel

  • EU countries can only place on the market diesel that complies with the Annex II. These specifications are used when marketing diesel sold in the EU.
  • If all other requirements in Annex II are met, EU countries can introduce diesel with higher fatty-acid methyl esters (FAME), which are the primary molecules in biodiesel fuel.
  • The sulphur content of diesel must not exceed 10mg/kg.
  • Some exceptions to this rule are possible for remote regions and for EU countries with severe winter weather.

GHG emissions reductions

  • EU countries designate the responsibility to fuel suppliers for annual monitoring and reporting on GHG life-cycle emissions* from fuel.
  • Fuel suppliers have to gradually reduce life cycle GHG emissions by up to 10% by 31 December 2020, compared with the fuel baseline standard (set out in Annex II to Council Directive (EU) 2015/652). That reduction consists of a mandatory 6% reduction target by 31 December 2020, an indicative additional target of 2% by 31 December 2020 to be achieved through the type of energy supplied for transport and/or the use of any technology (including carbon capture and storage) capable of reducing life cycle greenhouse gas emissions per unit of energy from fuel or energy supplied; and an indicative additional target of 2% by the same date to be achieved through the use of credits purchased through the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol.

Reporting

  • Each year, by 31 August, EU countries must submit information regarding their national fuel quality and the reduction of the greenhouse gas intensity of petrol and diesel fuels supplied to road transport, to non-road mobile machinery in a report that collects all the relevant data from the previous calendar year. The data must be collected from a fuel quality monitoring system in line with relevant EU standards. By 31 August each year, each EU country must submit information according to Article 8(1) and 7a of Directive 98/70/EC (as amended). Article 8(1) requires a summary of fuel quality monitoring data collected during the period January to December of the previous calendar year.Article 7a imposes requirements on fuel suppliers to reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of energy supplied for road transport.
  • Each year by 31 December, EU countries must submit information regarding their progress.

FROM WHEN DOES THE DIRECTIVE APPLY?

It had to become law in the EU countries by 1 July 1999. EU countries had to apply the rules as of 1 January 2000.

BACKGROUND

For more information, see:

KEY TERMS

Non-road mobile machinery: a large number of engine installations in machines used for purposes other than transporting goods or passengers, such as bulldozers, compressors, back loaders, or front loaders.
GHG life-cycle emissions reporting: reporting on the emissions of CO2, CH4 and N2O from the extraction, processing and distribution of the fuels.

MAIN DOCUMENT

Directive 98/70/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 October 1998 relating to the quality of petrol and diesel fuels and amending Council Directive 93/12/EEC (OJ L 350, 28.12.1998, pp. 58-68)

Successive amendments to Directive 98/70/EC have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

RELATED DOCUMENTS

Regulation (EU) 2018/1999 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2018 on the Governance of the Energy Union and Climate Action, amending Regulations (EC) No 663/2009 and (EC) No 715/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council, Directives 94/22/EC, 98/70/EC, 2009/31/EC, 2009/73/EC, 2010/31/EU, 2012/27/EU and 2013/30/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council, Council Directives 2009/119/EC and (EU) 2015/652 and repealing Regulation (EU) No 525/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council (OJ L 328, 21.12.2018, pp. 1-77)

Directive (EU) 2018/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2018 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources (recast) (OJ L 328, 21.12.2018, pp. 82-209)

Council Directive (EU) 2015/652 of 20 April 2015 laying down calculation methods and reporting requirements pursuant to Directive 98/70/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council relating to the quality of petrol and diesel fuels (OJ L 107, 25.4.2015, pp. 26-67)

Commission Regulation (EU) No 1307/2014 of 8 December 2014 on defining the criteria and geographic ranges of highly biodiverse grassland for the purposes of Article 7b(3)(c) of Directive 98/70/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council relating to the quality of petrol and diesel fuels and Article 17(3)(c) of Directive 2009/28/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources (OJ L 351, 9.12.2014, pp. 3-5)

Commission Recommendation 2005/27/EC 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 (OJ L 15, 19.1.2005, pp. 26-29)

last update 19.09.2019

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