If you use gas oil (often known as “red diesel”) then there are changes from January 2011 which you need to know about:
EU Directive 2009/30/EC requires that, from 1st January 2011,
all gas oil marketed for use in non-road mobile machinery (i.e.
mobile off road equipment) must contain no more than 10 milligrams
of sulphur per kilogram of fuel (virtually 'sulphur free').
This fuel is needed by cleaner engines fitted in new off-road
equipment which will be made to meet stringent new EU emission
These standards will improve air quality and reduce adverse
health and environmental effects.
Sulphur free gas oil is also likely to contain up to 7%
The majority of existing equipment should not have any problems
with the new fuel but a few precautions are recommended.
Who will be affected by these changes?
Owners and users of off-road equipment. This includes tractors and
other agricultural equipment, forestry equipment, construction
equipment, forklifts, portable generators, inland waterway vessels,
recreational craft and railway vehicles. However gas oil for
stationary and heating applications may also be affected. In the
case of gas oil for use in railway vehicles the introduction of
sulphur free gas oil will be one year later (1st January
The UK Gas Oil Supply
The oil industry has indicated that they expect to meet the
requirement for gas oil to be sulphur free by January 2011 largely
by supplying road diesel with a red marker dye added for use in
mobile off road equipment. Road diesel is already sulphur free.
Because road diesel contains some biodiesel (up to 7%), much gas
oil for off- road equipment is also likely to contain biodiesel by
1st January 2011. Biodiesel blends of up to 7% are compatible with
existing off-road equipment engines provided good housekeeping
arrangements have been adhered to in the storage of the fuel.
What do I do about Off-Road Equipment?
If you own off-road equipment it is recommended that you:
• Examine fuel systems following the switch to the new fuel
and ensure that any seals or pipes found to be leaking are
• If you are having older machinery serviced, replace fuel
seals and pipes as a precaution.
• Replace fuel filters after the first 2 to 3 tankfuls of the
What should I do about Fuel Storage?
Because of the changes in fuel quality, you will need to exercise
increased care in the storage of sulphur free gas oil for off road
equipment where this contains biodiesel.
• Remove all water from the tanks and conduct monthly checks
so that they remain free of water.
• Tanks that don't already have drain points for removing
water are likely to need modification.
• Examine sight gauges on older fuel storage tanks for signs
of leakage and replace any leaking seals.
• If you are having tanks serviced before you receive the new
fuel it would be advisable to replace fuel seals as a, one-off,
• Replace fuel filters after 2 to 3 deliveries/turnover of
the new fuel.
• Ensure the content of tanks is turned over every 6 months
or in any event no less often than every 12 months to help prevent
blockage of filters.
What happens if I have Stationary Equipment?
Gas oil for heating or for stationary equipment is not required to
be sulphur free.
However, some fuel suppliers may supply you with sulphur free gas
oil for these applications as well. In this case particular
attention to the above precautions will be required. Heating
gas oil users may wish to refer to their fuel supplier or service
company for guidance on fuel filtration.
How does this apply to Marine Fuel?
Gas oil sold for inland waterway vessels and recreational craft
when used on inland waterways is required to be sulphur free by 1st
Gas oil for sea-going marine use is not required to be sulphur
free. It is not anticipated that suppliers of marine fuel will
switch to sulphur free, but you may wish to confirm this with your
supplier nearer the time.
The same fuel storage and fuel system compatibility issues would
apply to marine applications as for off road equipment. However,
these may be exacerbated by the increased risk of water
contamination and safety concerns
Where do I find more detailed information?
Let your fuel supplier know what purpose you need the fuel for.
They should supply you a fuel that is fit for purpose and be able
to advise you of the sulphur and biofuel content of the fuel.
Further advice is available on the Department for Transport
News Source: Department for Transport