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Guidance Document on the Sulphur in Diesel Fuel Regulations

Questions on Section 3 of the Regulations

Section 3: Maximum Concentration of Sulphur

3.1 What are the limits for sulphur?

The sulphur limits are summarized below.

SulphurLimit
(mg/kg)
On-Road
Diesel Fuel
Off-Road
Diesel Fuel
Rail and Marine
Diesel Fuel
500Production
and Import
Since 1998June 1, 2007June 1, 2007
SalesSince 1998October 1, 20072October 1, 20072
15Production
and Import
June 1, 2006June 1, 2010June 1, 2012
SalesSeptember 1, 20061October 1, 20103N/A

1 September 1, 2007 in the Northern Supply Area
2 December 1, 2008 in the Northern Supply Area
3 December 1, 2011 in the Northern Supply Area


3.2 What diesel fuel is not subject to the compositional requirements of the regulations?

Diesel fuel that is not for use in on-road vehicles, off-road engines, locomotive and vessel diesel engines is not required to meet the compositional requirements of the regulations.


3.3 What is diesel 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.


3.4 What is diesel fuel "for use in off-road engines"?

Diesel fuel "for use in off-road engines" is any diesel fuel that may be used in a off-road engines. The definition for off-road engine in the regulations comes from the Off-Road Compression-Ignition Engine Emission Regulations.

"Off-road engine" is defined by both the regulations as "a diesel engine, except for aircraft engines, locomotive engines, vessel engines and engines used to propel on-road vehicles, that is used or designed to be used

  1. by itself and that is designed and intended to be moved from one location of use to another; or
  2. in or on a machine that
    1. is designed and intended to be moved from one location of use to another,
    2. is self-propelled,
    3. serves a dual purpose by both propelling itself and performing another function, or
    4. is designed to be propelled while performing its function.

These engines would be used in equipment such as farm tractors and other agriculture equipment, mining equipment, forestry equipment, etc.

Agricultural equipment such as farm tractors, combines, and other harvesting equipment would be considered to have off-road engines. Construction equipment such as bulldozers and backhoes would also be considered to have off-road engines. Specialty equipment used in forestry, mining would also be considered to have off-road engines.


3.5 Are amphibious vehicles on-road, off-road or marine vehicles/equipment?

The regulations define "on-road vehicle" 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.

The regulations define "off-road engine" as a diesel engine, except for aircraft engines, locomotive engines, vessel engines and engines used to propel on-road vehicles, that is used or designed to be used

  1. by itself and that is designed and intended to be moved from one location of use to another; or
  2. in or on a machine that
    1. is designed and intended to be moved from one location of use to another,
    2. is self-propelled,
    3. serves a dual purpose by both propelling itself and performing another function, or
    4. is designed to be propelled while performing its function. (moteur hors route)

If an amphibious vehicle is designed for use on a road, it would be an on-road vehicle.


3.6 What is "diesel fuel for use in vessel engines"?

A vessel engine is defined in the regulations as " a diesel engine that is installed on a vessel to move or propel the vessel through the water or to direct its movement or to provide auxiliary power. " A vessel is defined in the regulations as "a boat, ship or craft that is designed, used or capable of being used for navigation in, on or through water but is not designed for self-propulsion out of water".

Thus all diesel engines on a boat, ship or marine craft would be considered vessel engines.

With respect to the definition of diesel fuel, diesel fuel is defined in the regulations as "a fuel that can evaporate at atmospheric pressure, that boils within the range of 130°C to 400°C and that is for use in diesel engines or any fuel that is sold or represented as diesel fuel, as biodiesel fuel or as a blend of biodiesel fuel and diesel fuel."

Marine fuels that start boiling below 400 °C but have an end point above this temperature would not be considered as diesel fuel under the regulations unless they were sold or represented as diesel fuel. Such fuels would fall under the categories of other marine fuels such as bunker, marine fuel oil, etc. and are not regulated under these regulations.


3.7 How can I tell if the fuel I use in my vessel (marine) diesel engine falls under the definition of diesel fuel for use in vessel engines?

Vessel engines can burn a wide variety of fuels from diesel fuel up to a heavy bunker, with grades in-between.

The Regulations define diesel fuel as "a fuel that can evaporate at atmospheric pressure, that boils within the range of 130°C to 400°C and that is for use in diesel engines or any fuel that is sold or represented as diesel fuel, as biodiesel fuel or as a blend of biodiesel fuel and diesel fuel."

Bunker and intermediate marine fuels would normally have a boiling end point above 400 °C. Such fuels would not be considered as diesel fuel under the regulations unless they were sold or represented as diesel fuel.


3.8 What is "diesel fuel for use in locomotive engines"?

A locomotive engine is defined in the regulations as " a diesel engine installed in a locomotive to move or propel it or to provide auxiliary power". A locomotive is defined as " a self-propelled vehicle that is designed to run on rails and for moving or propelling railway cars that are designed to carry freight or other equipment or passengers, but that itself is not designed to carry freight or other equipment or passengers (other than those operating the locomotive), but does not include equipment that is designed to run on both roads and rails, specialized railroad equipment for maintenance, construction, post-accident recovery of equipment and repairs or vehicles propelled by engines with rated horsepower of less than 750 kW."

Therefore all diesel engines on a locomotive would be considered a locomotive engine.

With respect to the definition of diesel fuel, diesel fuel is defined in the regulations as "a fuel that can evaporate at atmospheric pressure, that boils within the range of 130°C to 400°C and that is for use in diesel engines or any fuel that is sold or represented as diesel fuel, as biodiesel fuel or as a blend of biodiesel fuel and diesel fuel."

Note that under the regulations, light fuel oil for use in a locomotive engine is considered as diesel fuel for use in locomotive engines.


3.9 I live in a remote northern community where there are no paved roads. What are the requirements of the regulations regarding fuel sold for use in my diesel pick-up truck?

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". A pick-up truck is therefore an on-road vehicle under the regulations.

The sulphur limits for diesel fuel sold or offered for sale for on-road vehicle use are as follows:

  • For all of Canada except the Northern Supply Area (an area defined in the regulation):
    • 500 mg/kg until August 31, 2006; and
    • 15 mg/kg after August 31, 2006, and
  • for the Northern Supply Area:
    • 500 mg/kg until August 31, 2007; and
    • 15 mg/kg after August 31, 2007.


3.10 Why is there a 500 mg/kg limit in place until 2006 for on-road vehicles?

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.


3.11 How was the 15 mg/kg sulphur limit arrived at?

Lower sulphur in diesel fuel is required to enable the efficient operation of advanced exhaust emission control technologies needed to comply with the new diesel vehicle and engine emission standards that are coming into effect. The U.S. EPA determined that a maximum sulphur level of 15 mg/kg was required to enable the efficient operation of advanced technologies needed to comply with its new vehicle and engine emission standards. Canada requires the same quality of fuels as the same vehicles and engines are marketed in Canada.

Sulphur in diesel fuel is currently regulated in other jurisdictions. Many countries are bringing the sulphur in diesel fuels down below 15 mg/kg. In December 2000, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) adopted regulations that reduce sulphur in on-road applications down to 15 mg/kg2 throughout the U.S. starting June 2006. In June 2004, the U.S. EPA adopted further regulations to reduce sulphur in off-road, rail and marine applications down to 500 mg/kg and finally 15 mg/kg starting June 2007. In May 2001, the European Union proposed to introduce "zero" sulphur (defined as less than 10 mg/kg sulphur) on-road diesel fuel commencing January 1, 2005.

The Sulphur in Diesel Fuel Regulations align Canadian requirements for the allowable level of sulphur in diesel fuels for on-road vehicles, off-road engines, locomotive engines and vessel engines with those of the U.S.


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

It takes time for "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.


3.13 Will the Regulations be amended to reflect the changes that the U.S. EPA has proposed to ease the 2006 transition to 15 mg/kg on-road diesel fuel (i.e a 22 mg/kg sulphur sales limit from September 1, 2006 to October 15, 2006 )?

A discussion paper looking at a similar Canadian transition period for 15 mg/kgon-road sulphur diesel fuel was published on August 23rd, 2005.

Monitor the web-page for the Sulphur in Diesel Fuel Regulations in the CEPA Registry for the status of these potential Amendments.


3.14 Why is there a longer delay before the 15 mg/kg sales sulphur limit comes into effect 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.


3.15 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. This is accomplished by reducing the maximum allowable limit for sulphur in on-road diesel fuel to 500 / 15 mg/kg of fuel. Sulphur concentrations above those levels can have 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.


3.16 I am a producer or importer of diesel fuel. How do I know if the fuel I produce or import is for a certain use?

You may not know the intended use of the diesel fuel. However, if the diesel fuel exceeds the concentration referred to in Section 3 of the regulations for the respective periods, an appropriate record must be made and retained for each batch that is produced or imported, as per Section 6 of the Regulation. A summary of the required wording to be recorded is provided in the table below:

Sulphur ConcentrationProduction/Import DatesRecord
exceeding 500 mg/kguntil May 31, 2006"not suitable for use in on-road vehicles"
exceeding 500 mg/kgfrom June 1, 2007 until May 31, 2012"not suitable for use in on-road vehicles, off-road engines, locomotive engines or vessel engines"
exceeding 15 mg/kg and less than 500 mg/kgJune 1, 2006 until May 31, 2010"not suitable for use in on-road vehicles"
exceeding 15 mg/kg and less than 500 mg/kgfrom June 1, 2010 until May 31, 2012"not suitable for use in on-road vehicles or off-road engines"
exceeding 15 mg/kgafter May 31, 2012"not suitable for use in on-road vehicles, off-road engines, locomotive engines or vessel engines"


3.17 I am a seller of diesel fuel. How do I know if the fuel I sell is used for its intended use?

You may not know the intended use of the diesel fuel. However, if diesel fuel has a sulphur concentration exceeding the limits for sales set out in Section 3, then it cannot be sold for the respective uses. The sales limits are summarized below.

Sulphur limitOn-Road
Diesel Fuel
Off-Road
Diesel Fuel
Rail and Marine
Diesel Fuel
500Since 1998October 1, 20072October 1, 20072
15September 1, 20061October 1, 20103N/A

1 September 1, 2007 in the Northern Supply Area
2 December 1, 2008 in the Northern Supply Area
3 December 1, 2011 in the Northern Supply Area


3.18 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. Can I sell this diesel fuel?

If the diesel fuel does not meet the regulatory requirement of 15 mg/kg or 500 mg/kg sulphur maximums, then it cannot be sold for use in the respective vehicles or engine categories. Refer to question 3.9 for a summary of the sales limits for various uses of diesel fuel.


3.19 A batch of diesel fuel for on-road use with a sulphur level < 15 mg/kg was dispatched from a refinery. The batch picked up some sulphur during distribution and now has a sulphur level > 15 mg/kg. I plan to blend this off-specification diesel fuel with other diesel fuel at my terminal in order to meet the 15 mg/kg sales limit. Would this blending be production of on-road diesel fuel under the regulation? Do I have to report the information set out in Schedule 1 of the Regulations for this blending?

No to both questions. The blending operation described did not result in the production of diesel fuel.


3.20 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.


3.21 Why were the units for the limits been changed from 0.05% by mass in the Diesel Fuel Regulations to 500 mg/kg in the 2002 regulations?

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


3.22 In the U.S., 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.


3.23 I sell on-road diesel fuel at a retail outlet. I have no control over the sulphur concentration of diesel fuel that is delivered to me. Am I in contravention of the regulations if I sell diesel fuel with a sulphur level > 15 mg/kg?

Yes, if you sold this fuel for on-road use after August 31, 2006 , except in the Northern Supply Area where this limit comes into effect September 1, 2007.


3.24 I sell fuels for marine use that are a blend of diesel fuel and a heavier fuel oil. Does this fuel fall under these regulations?

If the fuel meets the definition of Diesel Fuel under Section 1, Interpretation, in the Regulations, then yes. The key component to note is the boiling point of the fuel. Under the regulation, diesel fuel is defined as a fuel that boils between 130 °C and 400 °C. If the fuel begins to boil below 400 °C and continues to boil above 400 °C, then this fuel would not be considered diesel fuel under the regulations.

Note, that these regulations are not intended to address bunker fuel or Marine Fuel Oils used in large marine diesel engines.


3.25 I am a fuel distributor and deliver diesel fuel to retailers. Is there anything new I need to do to my truck to distribute the 15 mg/kgsulphur diesel fuel? If so, where can I find information on the updated operational procedures?

The Canadian Petroleum Products Institute (CPPI) has issued a handbook titled "Recommended Management Practices, Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel (ULSD) Distribution System", to aide distributors of 15 mg/kg sulphur diesel fuel. Please contact CPPI for a copy of this handbook.


3.26 I am a retailer of diesel fuel. Are there any new special requirements or procedures for selling the 15 mg/kg diesel fuel? Will I need to flush out my diesel fuel storage tanks?

The Canadian Petroleum Products Institute (CPPI) has issued a handbook titled "Recommended Management Practices, Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel (ULSD) Distribution System", to aide distributors of 15 mg/kg sulphur diesel fuel. Please contact CPPI for a copy of this handbook.




Footnotes

2 100 mg/kg = 100 parts per million (ppm) = 0.0100% by weight.

 
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