Diesel Fuel Types

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:

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  1. CAN/CGSB-3.517 Automotive Low-Sulfur Diesel Fuel
  2. CAN/CGSB-3.520 Automotive Low-Sulfur Diesel Fuel Containing Low Levels Of Biodiesel Esters (B1-B5)
  3. CAN/CGSB-3.16 Mining Diesel Fuel
  4. CAN/CGSB-3.6 Regular Sulfur Diesel Fuel
  5. CAN/CGSB-3.18 Diesel Fuel for Locomotive-Type Medium Speed Diesel Engines
  6. 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.

Table 1
Fuel Types and Applications
StandardFuel TypeIntended Application
CAN/CGSB-3.517
Automotive Low-Sulfur Diesel Fuel
Type A-LS 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.
Type B-LS 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.
Type A-ULS Same as Type A-LS. Maximum fuel sulfur of 15 mg/kg.
Type B-ULS Same as Type B-LS. Maximum fuel sulfur of 15 mg/kg.
CAN/CGSB-3.520
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.
CAN/CGSB-3.6
Regular Sulfur Diesel Fuel
Type A Similar to Type A-LS, but fuel use is mainly limited to off-road applications. Maximum fuel sulfur of 3000 mg/kg.
Type B Similar to Type B-LS, but fuel use is mainly limited to off-road applications. Maximum fuel sulfur of 5000 mg/kg.
CAN/CGSB-3.16
Mining Diesel Fuel
SPECIAL High speed diesel engines used in underground mining equipment. Maximum fuel sulfur of 2500 mg/kg.
SPECIAL-LS High speed diesel engines used in underground mining equipment. Maximum fuel sulfur of 500 mg/kg.
CAN/CGSB-3.18
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.
CGSB 3-GP-11D
Naval Distillate Fuel
Type 11 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.
Type 15 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.

Fuel Regulations

Canadian regulations affecting the environmental impact of diesel fuel are the Sulfur in Diesel Fuel Regulations and the Fuels Information Regulations, No. 1.

  • 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.
  • The Fuels Information Regulations, No. 1 require that sulfur content and additive use be reported for all fuels.

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. Sulfur in on-road diesel fuel will be less than 15 mg/kg starting in 2006. Off-road diesel fuel will transition 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 will be required to have less than 500 mg/kg of sulfur starting in 2007 but will have 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 Area needs to meet the legal requirements a year or more later than that sold in the rest of the country. The following table provides further details.

Table 2
Fuel Sulfur Regulations
FuelSulfur Limit, mg/kgDate
Producer / ImporterPoint of SaleNorthern Supply Area† Point of Sale
On-road diesel500199711998.011
152006.062006.092007.09
Off-road diesel5002007.062007.102008.12
152010.062010.102011.12
Locomotive & marine diesel5002007.062007.102008.12
152012.06-
† 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.
1 - 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.