Ultralow sulfur diesel with a maximum of 15 ppm sulfur has been the norm since 2006 for on-road vehicles, 2010 for non-road vehicles, and 2012 for locomotives and marine vessels. As of January 2017, gasoline is limited to an average of 10 ppm sulfur on an annual basis, with the maximum sulfur allowed per batch remaining at 80 ppm at the refinery gate and 95 ppm downstream.
Fuel quality standards
On-road and off-road fuels sold in Canada that are either produced domestically or imported
Canadian regulations affecting the environmental impact of diesel fuel are the Sulfur in Diesel Fuel Regulations and the Fuels Information Regulations, No. 1. Canada has legal requirements for the sulfur concentration in on-road, off-road, locomotive and marine diesel fuels that generally align with those of the US EPA. The Fuels Information Regulations, No. 1 require that sulfur content and additive use be reported for all fuels. The Sulfur in Diesel Fuel Regulations specify sulfur limits for on-road and off-road diesel fuels sold in Canada that are either produced domestically or imported. The first rule, published in July 2002, focused on on-road diesel fuels. Amendments published in October 2005 added biodiesel, off-road and locomotive and marine diesel fuels to the regulations and made changes to the reporting requirements and the test methods. 2012 amendments introduced new categories and sulphur limits for diesel fuel produced, imported and sold for use in stationary engines and large vessels. Two new fuel categories for diesel fuel for use in vessels were introduced, one for large vessels and another for non-large vessels. Sulfur in on-road diesel fuel was less than 15 mg/kg starting in 2006. Off-road diesel fuel transitioned to less than 500 mg/kg starting in 2007 and then to less than 15 mg/kg starting in 2010. Locomotive and marine diesel fuels were required to have less than 500 mg/kg of sulfur starting in 2007 and had until 2012 before dropping further to less than 15 mg/kg. There is a delay of a few months between the dates that producers and importers and fuel at the point of sale need to meet the legislated requirements. Fuel sold in the Northern Supply Area1needed to meet the legal requirements a year or more later than that sold in the rest of the country; the Northern Supply Area has since been repealed. The following table provides further details.
|Sulfur Limit, mg/kg
|Producer / Importer
|Point of Sale
|Northern Supply Area†,‡
Point of Sale
|•Large Stationary Engines
|•Small Stationary Engines
† Area corresponding to the northern part of Yukon; the Northwest Territories outside of the area accessible by road from BC and Alberta; Nunavut; parts of Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec within 50 km from the coast of Hudson Bay or James Bay; the north part of Quebec; and Labrador in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
‡ “Northern supply area” was repealed in SOR/2012-135, 20 June 2012
* Legislated by “Diesel Fuel Regulations” (SOR/97-110) adopted in 1997. Between 1994 and 1997 fuel suppliers agreed to provide 500 ppm sulfur fuels under a Memorandum of Understanding with Environment Canada.
Diesel fuel quality specifications in Canada are the responsibility of the Middle Distillates Committee of the Canadian General Standards Board. This Committee maintains a number of standards for diesel fuel used in different applications. These include:
- CAN/CGSB-3.517 Automotive Low-Sulfur Diesel Fuel
- CAN/CGSB-3.520 Automotive Low-Sulfur Diesel Fuel Containing Low Levels Of Biodiesel Esters (B1-B5)
- CAN/CGSB-3.16 Mining Diesel Fuel
- CAN/CGSB-3.6 Regular Sulfur Diesel Fuel
- CAN/CGSB-3.18 Diesel Fuel for Locomotive-Type Medium Speed Diesel Engines
- CGSB 3-GP-11d Naval Distillate Fuel
Most of these standards cover several types of diesel fuels. The standards, the types covered by that standard and the intended applications are outlined in the following table.
Automotive Low-Sulfur Diesel Fuel
|High speed diesel engine applications involving frequent and relatively wide variations in loads and speeds and when ambient temperatures require better low temperature properties. Examples include urban transit buses and passenger vehicles. Maximum fuel sulfur of 500 mg/kg.
|High speed diesel engines in services involving relatively high loads and uniform speeds and when ambient temperatures and fuel storage conditions allow its use. Examples include intercity trucks and construction equipment. Maximum fuel sulfur of 500 mg/kg.
|Same as Type A-LS. Maximum fuel sulfur of 15 mg/kg.
|Same as Type B-LS. Maximum fuel sulfur of 15 mg/kg.
Automotive Low-Sulfur Diesel Fuel Containing Low Levels Of Biodiesel Esters (B1-B5)
|Type A-LS, Bx
|Same as Type A-LS. Maximum fuel sulfur of 500 mg/kg. Biodiesel content from 1.0 to 5% by volume.
|Type B-LS, Bx
|Same as Type B-LS. Maximum fuel sulfur of 500 mg/kg. Biodiesel content from 1.0 to 5% by volume.
Regular Sulfur Diesel Fuel
|Similar to Type A-LS, but fuel use is mainly limited to off-road applications. Maximum fuel sulfur of 3000 mg/kg.
|Similar to Type B-LS, but fuel use is mainly limited to off-road applications. Maximum fuel sulfur of 5000 mg/kg.
Mining Diesel Fuel
|High speed diesel engines used in underground mining equipment. Maximum fuel sulfur of 2500 mg/kg.
|High speed diesel engines used in underground mining equipment. Maximum fuel sulfur of 500 mg/kg.
Diesel Fuel for Locomotive-Type Medium Speed Diesel Engines
|Medium speed diesel engines in locomotive service. Other medium speed diesel engines may also use this fuel. Maximum fuel sulfur of 5000 mg/kg.
Naval Distillate Fuel
|High speed and medium speed diesel engines, gas turbines and boilers in marine service and when ambient temperatures are higher than –1°C. Maximum fuel sulfur of 5000 mg/kg.
|High speed and medium speed diesel engines, gas turbines and boilers in marine service and when ambient temperatures are higher than –12°C. Maximum fuel sulfur of 5000 mg/kg.
The existence of a fuel standard for a particular fuel does not always guarantee its availability. Fuel buyers sometimes purchase other fuel types from sellers in place of fuels that are difficult to procure. For example, depending on availability and/or geographic location, mining diesel fuel (CAN/CGSB-3.16) and naval distillate fuel (CGSB 3-GP-11d) may be difficult to procure. Automotive low-sulfur diesel fuel (CAN/CGSB-3.517) is sometimes supplied in place of these fuels.
Sulphur levels of gasoline have been regulated since 2002. Sulphur in Gasoline Regulations, published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, on 23 June 1999, require sulphur levels in Canadian gasoline to average no more than 30 parts per million (ppm) with a maximum of 80 ppm beginning in 2005. The regulation was last amended in March 2009.
Benzene in gasoline has been regulated since 1999. The Benzene in Gasoline Regulations were published on 26 November 1997. The Regulations limited the supply of benzene to 1.0% by volume after 1 July 1999 and limited the sale of benzene to 1.5% by volume after 1 October 1999 (1 July 2000 in the northern supply area).
Gasoline Technical Standards
The federal Sulphur in Gasoline Regulations took effect July 2002 and require an average gasoline sulphur concentration of 150 mg/kg as of July 2002 and 30 mg/kg as of January 2005. More on the Sulphur in Gasoline Regulations Environment Canada’s Sulfur webpage and the legislative text.
Benzene is also regulated in gasoline. The Benzene in Gasoline Regulations took effect in July 1999 and prohibit the supply of gasoline containing more than 1% benzene by volume. The regulations also prohibit the sale of gasoline that contains benzene at a concentration that exceeds 1.5% by volume. Suppliers of gasoline may elect to meet the requirements for benzene or the benzene emissions number on the basis of annual average limits.