Report of the Technical Working Group on Certain Fuel Quality Parameters: Executive Summary

  • A full version of this report may be downloaded upon request through the Environment Canada Publications Catalogue.

In response to issues raised in a report by the Pembina Institute[i], commissioned by the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers of Canada (AIAMC), the Minister of Environment asked the Oil, Gas and Alternative Energy Division of Environment Canada, in collaboration with industry, to make recommendations on a path forward for four fuel quality parameters related to on-road gasoline and diesel. These parameters include sulphur in gasoline, deposit control additives (DCAs) in gasoline, lubricity in diesel, and cetane in diesel. The Minister specified that the recommendation should be in the context of harmonization with the United States[ii], and in the context of environmental and/or health benefits.

In July 2009, a government-industry technical working group was formed to develop the recommended path forward for the four parameters. Industry was also given the opportunity to raise issues related to renewable fuel quality.

The government-industry technical working group has completed its task, and submits the following recommendations on the four parameters:

Recommended Path Forward for Sulphur in On-Road Gasoline

Canada is currently harmonized with the U.S. on gasoline sulphur levels. In the context of continuing this harmonization, the federal governments of Canada and the U.S. should work jointly to determine benefits and costs of further reduction of gasoline sulphur levels.

Recommended Path Forward for Deposit Control Additives (DCAs) in On-Road Gasoline

Note: The Canadian Petroleum Products Institute (CPPI) could not participate in the development of this recommendation on DCAs for competitiveness reasons.

Environment Canada and Health Canada should assess impacts associated with the identified quality and regulatory gaps, to determine if there are compelling reasons to consider possible government tools to harmonize DCA levels in Canadian gasoline with current U.S. levels. They should also monitor any new efforts in the U.S. on DCAs, and assess impacts associated with harmonizing with future levels.

Other Possible Actions for DCAs

There are industry-led options that could be considered, such as a voluntary agreement committing that all on-road gasoline purchased by end-users in Canada will have at least CGSB or EPA equivalent levels of DCAs, but do not restrict marketers from offering higher levels of DCAs.

Recommended Path Forward for Cetane Number in On-Road Diesel

EC should monitor any new efforts in the U.S., but no additional action is recommended at this time because current cetane numbers are equivalent to, or better than, the U.S. Should the U.S. EPA regulate a cetane number specification, Canada should assess environmental and human health benefits associated with harmonizing with U.S. requirements.

Recommended Path Forward for Lubricity in On-Road Diesel

EC should monitor any new efforts in the U.S., but no additional action is recommended at this time because current lubricity levels are equivalent to, or better than, the U.S. Also, current lubricity levels are being managed to meet the standard defined by CGSB.


Some issues related to renewable fuel quality were also raised, and are tabled in Section 5 of this report. These are not consensus recommendations from the working group. Some members recommended that, as a priority, Environment Canada regulate a 10% ethanol blend cap for gasoline and a 5% blend cap for low-level biodiesel blends for conventional vehicles, and that next, Environment Canada regulate appropriate quality parameters for the bio-components and the final blended fuels to minimize operability, volatility, and environmental impacts. Other members indicated that these concerns can be managed more effectively via different processes, such as the joint Industry Auto-Oil Technical forum and the Canadian General Standards Board.



[i] Fuel Quality in Canada – Impact on Tailpipe Emissions, Prepared for the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers of Canada by the Pembina Institute (Jesse Row and Alex Doukas). November 26, 2008.

[ii] The AIAMC acknowledges that the Minister of Environment tasked the government-industry technical working group to perform data and regulatory gap analyses for four key fuel quality parameters and develop recommendations on a path forward within the context of harmonization with the United States. In this regard, the AIAMC notes that the working group has not undertaken to compare Canadian fuel quality parameters and regulations within the scope of several other leading global jurisdictions, several of which provided the point of departure for the Pembina Institute’s report entitled Fuel Quality in Canada – Impact on Tailpipe Emissions.