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HMRC internal manual

Oils Technical Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Introduction and overview of oils activity: types of oil products and their use: mineral oil products

Petroleum Gases can be liquefied and stored under pressure as Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG). LPG is used for heating and cooking, (propane and butane) especially where piped gas is not available. It is sold as a fuel in containers as both Camping Gas, and as Industrial Gases. LPG (propane) is also used as a road fuel.

The gasoline fractions produced by distillation contain impurities, and have to undergo further processing and treatment, in order to produce a variety of motor fuels. Petrol is a light straw coloured liquid, which is highly volatile (i.e. it evaporates at normal temperatures, producing fumes which can easily ignite) and is used as a road fuel.

All gasolines produced are designed to meet a minimum octane rating. In order to protect the environment they are also scrubbed to reduce sulphur content. The oil companies formerly produced Ultra Low Sulphur Petrol (ULSP), but all road fuels are now Sulphur Free Petrol (SFP).

Aviation Gasoline (AVGAS) containing higher levels of sulphur is also produced as a fuel for piston-engined aircraft, whilst Naphtha is used as a feedstock for producing a large range of petrochemicals and plastics at other chemical plants, it is also sometimes used as a blending component for gasoline and aviation fuel.

Jet aircraft use a high quality Kerosene for their turbine engines (AVTUR). Kerosene is also used as a Domestic or Industrial Heating Oil when burnt in Central Heating Boilers and Stoves.

Diesel fuel is a heavier fraction of crude oil than gasoline, which means that it is less volatile and evaporates at higher temperatures.

A range of Gas Oil (or Diesel) products are produced, each designed for use with different types of Diesel Engine.

There is a higher quality Gas Oil suitable as a fuel for the higher speed diesel engines found in lorries, buses and cars, and a lower specification fuel designed for use instead with fixed diesel engines or machinery and in ships’ engines which run at lower speeds.

Marine diesel may be either Marine Gas Oil (MGO*) or Marine Diesel Oil (MDO) also known as ‘Bunker Fuel’. MDO is a blend of gas oil with heavier fractions, and includes high levels of sulphur.

All gas oils produced as a road fuel are designed to meet a cetane rating. In order to protect the environment they are scrubbed to reduce sulphur content, and are therefore generally now Sulphur Free Diesel (SFD).

[ Note: MGO* used here to identify Marine Gas Oil, should not be confused with MGO or Marked (rebated) Gas Oil - also known as Red Diesel ].

Lubricating oils vary in viscosity or ‘runniness’ depending on the needs of the application. Lubricating oils vary from oils used to lubricate bicycles and sewing machines (spindle oils), to heavy-duty lubricants used in industry.

Lubricating oils are produced for use with both petrol and diesel engines. Waxes are removed from lubricating and fuel oil fractions and used to make candles, electrical insulation and waterproofing products.

Heavy Fuel Oils are blends of the residues left after the lighter fractions have been removed by distillation or cracking. Fuel oils are used in industrial boilers and power stations, and to generate steam in order to drive turbine engines on ships.

Bitumen is the residue from the bottom of the fractional distillation column, when the other fractions have been removed. Although liquid at 200ºC it is normally solid at room temperature, and is used in road construction and as a waterproofing material on roofs.


For information on Biofuels and other Fuel Substitutes see the guidance contained in HCOBIG ‘Biofuels Assurance’.