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ARCHIVED - Questions and Answers on the Federal Questions and Answers on the Federal Sulphur in Diesel Fuel Regulations

3. Maximum Concentration of Sulphur

  1. What are the limits for sulphur? For production and imports of diesel fuel for on-road use:
    • up to and including May 31, 2006, not greater than 500 mg/kg of sulphur - limit applies throughout Canada;
    • as of June 1, 2006, not greater than 15 mg/kg sulphur - limit applies throughout Canada.

    For sales of and offers to sell diesel fuel for on-road use in all of Canada except the northern supply area:

    • up to and including August 31, 2006, sulphur content no greater than 500 mg/kg;
    • as of September 1, 2006, sulphur content no greater than 15 mg/kg.

    For sales of and offers to sell diesel fuel for on-road use in the northern supply area:

    • up to and including August 31, 2007, sulphur content no greater than 500 mg/kg ;
    • as of September 1, 2007, sulphur content no greater than 15 mg/kg.
  2. What diesel fuel is not required to meet the compositional requirements of the regulations?

    Diesel fuel that is not for use in on-road vehicles is not required to meet the compositional requirements of the regulations.

  3. What is fuel for use in "on-road vehicles"?

    Diesel fuel "for use in on-road vehicles" is any diesel fuel that may be used in an on-road vehicle. Under the regulations, an on-road vehicle is defined as a self-propelled vehicle designed for transporting persons, property, material or permanently or temporarily affixed apparatus on a common or public road, street, avenue, parkway or highway.
  4. Why is there a 500 mg/kg limit in place until 2006?

    The 500 mg/kg limit has been in place since 1998. It was introduced largely because engines for model-year 1997 and later diesel-fueled vehicles at that time could not operate properly with higher-sulphur diesel fuel
  5. How was the 15 mg/kg sulphur limit arrived at?

    Reduction of sulphur to 15 mg/kg in on-road diesel fuel is required primarily to enable the effective operation of advanced exhaust emission control technologies needed to comply with the requirements of the new heavy-duty diesel vehicle emission regulations that are expected to come into effect for the 2007 model year.

    The regulations align Canadian requirements for the allowable level of sulphur in on-road diesel fuel with those of the United States,. They will also bring Canada in line with existing requirements or future initiatives in Europe, Japan and other progressive jurisdictions.

  6. Why does the 15 mg/kg limit for sales come into effect after the limit for production and imports?

    It takes time for the "cleaner diesel fuel" to flow through the distribution system. The 15 mg/kg cap concentration of sulphur in diesel comes into force three months after the cap on production and importation. This is to allow diesel fuel produced or imported in accordance with previous regulatory requirements, to work its way through the distribution system to the consumer. Since the "northern supply area" tends to have only one shipment of diesel fuel per year, the 15 mg/kg sales cap comes into effect one year later in that region than in the rest of Canada.

  7. Why is there a one-year delay before the 15 mg/kg is required in the northern supply area?

    Generally, it is difficult to supply remote northern locations, especially in the winter. Fuel shipments to these areas take place from mid-May to September. Refueling facilities in these areas are generally slow to turnover their diesel fuel stock. For these reasons, the regulations include a later implementation date with respect to the sulphur concentration on sales of diesel in these areas.

  8. Why are the limits maxima, rather than averages like under the Benzene in Gasoline and Sulphur in Gasoline Regulations?

    The goal of the regulations is to ensure that the level of sulphur in diesel fuel used in on-road vehicles in Canada will not impede the effective operation of advanced emission control technologies planned to be introduced on 2007 and later model-year vehicles (i.e., in mid-2006) in order for those vehicles to comply with stringent new exhaust emission regulations. This is accomplished by reducing the maximum allowable limit for sulphur in on-road diesel fuel to 15 mg/kg of fuel. Sulphur concentrations above this limit can have an adverse effects on the performance of advance emission control technology.

    Average limits would also increase the complexity of a regulation, requiring compliance plans and annual audits.

  9. I am a producer or importer of diesel fuel. How do I know if the fuel I produce or import is "for use in on-road vehicles" ?

    You may not know the intended use of the diesel fuel. However, if the diesel fuel exceeds the concentration referred to in paragraph (1)(a) or (b) of the regulations, then you must identify the batch of diesel fuel as "not suitable for use in on-road vehicles" prior to the dispatch of that diesel fuel from your production facility or prior to importation of that diesel fuel.

  10. I am a seller of diesel fuel. How do I know if the fuel I sell identified as "diesel not suitable for use in on-road vehicles " is not used in on-road vehicles ?

    You may not know the intended use of the diesel fuel. However, if the diesel fuel exceeds the concentration referred to in Section 3, paragraphs (2)(a), (2)(b), (3)(a) and (3)(b) of the regulations, then it cannot be sold for use in on-road vehicles.

  11. Because of contamination or mixing during distribution, diesel fuel that was produced or imported with a sulphur concentration less than 15 mg/kg may end up having a sulphur concentration greater than 15 mg/kg. What do I do with this diesel fuel? Can I sell it?

    If the diesel fuel does not meet the regulatory requirement of 15 mg/kg sulphur maximum, then it cannot be sold for use in on-road vehicles after September 1, 2006 in most of Canada (i.e. except in the northern supply area) and in all of Canada after September 1, 2007. It can be sold for other uses.

  12. What units are used for compliance purposes?

    The units for the limits for the maximum concentration of sulphur are milligrams of sulphur per kilogram of diesel fuel, or mg/kg.

  13. Why have the units for the limits been changed from 0.05% by mass in the Diesel Fuel Regulations to 500 mg/kg in the new regulations?

    These are the units used in the test method ATSM D5453-00 which is specified in the new regulations. These units are also the standard for other fuels regulations and are metric.

  14. In the USA, there is a "compliance margin" that takes into consideration the variability of test procedures, when assessing compliance with the fuel. What is the acceptable compliance margin under the regulations for the 500 mg/kg limit and the 15 mg/kg limit?

    There is no compliance margin included in the Sulphur in Diesel Fuel Regulations.

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