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HMRC internal manual

Oils Technical Manual

Technical Background on Oils: Light and heavy oils

Mineral oil (hydrocarbon oil as defined in the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Act 1979) is divided into ‘light’ oil and ‘heavy’ oil according to its distillation characteristics.

Light oil includes, motor spirit, aviation spirit and industrial solvents such as toluene, xylene, etc. Heavy oil includes gas oil, kerosene, aviation turbine fuel (AVTUR) and fuel oil.

Descriptions of Mineral (Hydrocarbon) oils

Light Oil Heavy Oil
Benzole and benzene  



Motor and aviation Spirit

Petroleum ether

Rosin spirit

Solvent or heavy naphtha


Tetralin and decalin

Toluole and toluene

Turpentine, dipentene and pinene

White spirit and special solvents (e.g. special boiling point spirits )

Xylole and xylene ( including ortho-para and meta-xylene) Anthracene oil

Burning oil (kerosene)

Coal tar

Creosote oil

Diesel oil

Fluxing oil

Fuel oil

Gas oil

Lubricating oil

Medicinal paraffin

Switch gear and transformer oil

Technical white oil  
  Oil which may be either light or heavy
  Crude oil (crudes from the Middle East are normally light oil by virtue of their flash point)
Jet engine fuel. The description known as “wide cut gasoline” (or AVTAG (JET B) and AVGAS are light oils. The types usually known as AVTUR (JET A1) and AVCAT (JP5) are heavy oils