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Ultra Low Sulpher Diesel FAQ

Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel FAQ

New regulations introduced in 2006 required refiners across Canada to reduce the sulphur content in on-road diesel fuel to a maximum of 15 parts per million (ppm). This new Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel (ULSD) will improve air quality by reducing harmful emissions.

Shell invested $400 million to build two new diesel hyrdrotreaters at its Quebec and Alberta refineries. Construction was completed in early 2006, enabling production of on-spec ULSD with less than 15 ppm sulphur content.

Shell has chosen to exceed environmental requirements and apply the same sulphur standard to its off-road diesel as well. ULSD is now available to all Shell customers.

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What is ULSD?

ULSD stands for Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel. ULSD replaced the current on-highway diesel fuel in Canada known as Low Sulphur Diesel (LSD).

What is the difference between LSD and ULSD?

The biggest difference is sulphur content. The standard for LSD allowed a maximum 500 parts per million (ppm) of sulphur content while ULSD has maximum 15 ppm, a 97-per-cent decrease. Other ULSD fuel parameters such as fuel economy and energy content are within the range of LSD.

What is the timeline for ULSD?

The Sulphur in Diesel Fuel Regulations limit the sulphur level in on-road diesel fuel to a maximum of 15 ppm. The 15 ppm sulphur limit came into effect on June 1, 2006 for producers and importers and October 15, 2006 for sellers. In the Arctic regions, it's a year later, on September 1, 2007. This will allow for the slower turnaround of supplies created by logistical challenges in the far north.

Why is ULSD important?

ULSD will help improve air quality in Canada by reducing harmful emissions from on-road diesel-powered vehicles. As of late 2006, new diesel-powered vehicles come equipped with advanced emission control technology to reduce oxides of nitrogen and fine particulate emissions by some 90 per cent. ULSD fuel with maximum 15 ppm of sulphur content enables these advanced emission controls to operate at their required efficiency.

Does ULSD affect fuel economy and energy content?

All ULSD fuel parameters such as fuel economy and energy content are within the range of LSD. Refinery processes that remove sulphur also reduce fuel density and energy content, resulting in slightly less fuel economy and energy.

Can ULSD compromise fuel seals (i.e. elastomers)?

Old fuel seals may leak in some vehicles when ULSD is used. Fuel seals shrink and swell due to their continuous contact with fuel. If the fuel seal shrinks excessively, it can leak. Fuel seals in vehicles older than 1993 with high mileage (particularly those regularly operating at higher temperatures) are most at risk of leaking. Shell recommends customers contact their local dealer or vehicle manufacturer for additional information.

Could lubricity be an issue when I fill up with ULSD?

No. Shell Canada adds a lubricity improver to its ULSD so drivers can be assured of worry-free driving when they fill up with the new diesel fuel.

Do new diesel engines require a new type of engine oil?

Yes. A new, heavy-duty diesel engine oil category was introduced for 2007 and newer engines. The industry designation for this new category is called API CJ-4. Just as with the requirement for the use of ULSD, API CJ-4 engine oils are required to ensure durability and continued performance of the new emission control technologies.  Shell offers truckers this new heavy-duty diesel engine oil specification under the Rotella T & Rimula brands.

Does ULSD only benefit the environment when it's used in new vehicles?

ULSD is compatible with both old and new diesel-powered vehicles, although ULSD is a must for advanced emission controls on 2007 and newer diesel engines.

What do customers with diesel storage facilities need to do to prepare for ULSD?

Please refer to the Canadian Petroleum Products Institute's Recommended Management Practices: ULSD Distribution Systems

Links to further information

Environment Canada Sulphur in Diesel Regulations

Canadian Petroleum Products Institute FAQ's

Canadian Petroleum Products Institute Recommended Management Practices: ULSD Distribution Systems