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Top 100 Countries Ranked by Clean, Low Sulfur Diesel Limits

The International Fuel Quality Center (IFQC) has updated its ranking of the top 100 countries based on sulfur limits in on-road diesel – Sweden, Germany and Japan, remained first, second and third, respectively.

“This year’s ranking shows the tremendous movement being made globally toward zero sulfur fuels, as the top 44 countries all have sulfur limits of 50 ppm or less,” said Liisa Kiuru, executive director, IFQC. “We can expect to see sulfur reduction spreading beyond on-road fuels to non-road fuels in the near future, including marine and jet amongst others.”

Diesel desulfurization dramatically improves tailpipe emissions. Sulfur acts as a poison to aftertreatment systems, so the lower the sulfur level, the more improved performance of these systems, which further reduce emissions. However, taking sulfur out of diesel decreases the fuel’s lubricity, which makes additives necessary to compensate.

Sulfur is found naturally in crude oil; as a result, it passes into refined products such as transportation fuels when crude is processed at the refinery. When sulfur is emitted into the air as a result of fuel combustion, its compounds have negative environmental and health effects.

Industry and policymakers around the world have placed emphasis on reducing sulfur limits in fuels for decades, with the majority of countries around the world moving toward low sulfur fuels.

All EU countries ranked in the top ten, with 100% market penetration of 10 ppm sulfur diesel fuel according to the Fuel Quality Directive – all countries in the EU were required to have full penetration of 10 ppm sulfur in all transportation fuel by Jan. 1, 2009. These nations also ranked within the top ten in the IFQC’s previous ranking of the top 100 countries based on gasoline sulfur limits for 2009, illustrating the region’s overall dedication to cleaner fuels.

Last year, Japan (3rd) was the only country outside the EU with full market penetration of 10 ppm sulfur diesel. This year, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea reached the same limit, tying with EU nations at 9th. Hong Kong (40th) also has 100% market penetration of 10 ppm sulfur diesel as of January 2009 – these five countries are the only ones in the Asia Pacific region to have accomplished this level of sulfur reduction.

Some new additions to this year’s ranking include a number of European and African countries: Uganda (43rd), Morocco (44th), Montenegro (70th), Serbia (70th), Tunisia (81st) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (90th). Bahrain also implemented new tighter specifications, which has boosted its placement in the ranking to 63rd.

The complete tables ranking the top 100 countries by diesel sulfur standards can be found on the IFQC’s Web site at

Hart Energy Consulting is a division of Hart Energy Publishing, LP, one of the world’s largest energy industry publishers, with a diverse array of informational products for the worldwide energy industry. Multi-client consulting services include the International Fuel Quality Center, the Global Biofuels Center and an annual Crude, Refining & Clean Transportation Fuel Outlook to 2025. Headquartered in Houston, with offices in New York, London, Washington, Brussels, Bahrain, Singapore, Mexico City and Moscow, Hart Energy Publishing’s market-leading publications include Oil and Gas Investor, E&P, FUEL and PipeLine & Gas Technology. Hart also produces newsletters, custom publishing products, conferences, and unique multi-and single-client consulting services.

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