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HMRC internal manual

Oils Technical Manual

From
HM Revenue & Customs
Updated
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Marking: Road Fuel Testing Units

The detection of rebated oil in road vehicles as fuel is carried out by the Road Fuel Testing Unit (RFTU).

The RFTU is equipped as a mobile laboratory to enable samples of road fuel to be taken and field tested at the roadside or at commercial premises for the presence of a prescribed marker.

There are RFTUs in several regions. Each is staffed by a Testing officer and an Assistant Testing Officer.

The work of the RFTU is co-ordinated by a Road Fuel Control Officer (RFCO) who is part of the Fraud Investigation Service (FIS)

It is a criminal offence to:

  • Use oil, other than un-rebated heavy oil to fuel “road vehicles” (The Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Act 1979, section 13)
  • Remove the prescribed chemical marker or dye from any oil (Hydrocarbon Oil Marking Regulations 2002)
  • Add any substance to the oil to prevent the prescribed chemical marker being identified. (Hydrocarbon Oil (Marking) Regulations 2002).

An officer can require any person concerned with the use or supply of any oil to provide a sample of that oil for test (Hydrocarbon Oil Regulations 1973, Regulation 47) and it is a criminal offence to obstruct an officer from obtaining an oil sample (Customs and Excise Management Act 1979, section 16).

Once a sample has been obtained various field tests may be done to detect the presence of rebated oil.

(This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)

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If a fuel test proves positive, i.e. if a prescribed marker’s presence in the oil is indicated, a formal sample is taken following the strict procedure in the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Act 1979, Schedule 5 and offence action commenced.

Notice 75 gives details of penalties that may be imposed on anyone found to be using rebated oil as a road fuel.