A guide to gas oil – what is it and how to find the best supplier.

Important Notice: Gas oil tax legislation will be changing from 1 April 2022. Certas Energy will keep this guide up to date in line with the revised government legislation as details are communicated from HMRC. Please see the latest Certas Energy statement for a summary of the gas oil tax legislation changes so far and how they may affect your business –  please click here.

Welcome to Certas Energy’s guide to gas oil (red diesel). Here you’ll find out everything you need to know about the rebated fuel: from what it is and how it’s made, to who can use it and the latest regulatory updates.

What is gas oil?

Gas oil is a diesel fuel used for heating and back-up power generation, as well as off-road applications in a variety of industries including construction, agriculture and marine. Gas oil is currently subject to a lower fuel duty to road diesel (DERV) and is used by industries to power off-road plant machinery and vehicles, as well as heating applications.

Is gas oil known by any other name?

Gas oil is also commonly known as red diesel, owing to the red dye that is added. It is sometimes also referred to as cherry juice, tractor diesel and 35 second oil. Its properties are broadly similar to road diesel, with the red dye distinguishing it from clear-coloured road diesel. The use of gas oil in road vehicles is strictly prohibited by HMRC, with considerable fines for non-compliant usage.

How is gas oil made?

Like many forms of fuel, gas oil is derived from crude oil that has been extracted from the ground. The crude oil is heated and distilled to become gas oil, and red dye is added to the final product to give it its distinct colour and make it easily recognisable against colourless road diesel. The red dye alerts HMRC inspectors to any misuse of the off-road fuel.

What is gas oil used for?

Gas oil is designed to support fuel users that need a relatively inexpensive source of fuel for specific off-road operations. Industries relying on gas oil include agriculture, horticulture, fish farming, forestry, rail transport, travelling fairs and non-commercial enterprise. It is a ‘rebated fuel’, meaning it has a lower fuel duty than regular road diesel and, as such, can only be legally used by certain industries in specific circumstances. Currently, gas oil is permitted for some commercial, profit-generating purposes, but UK government guidelines will be restricting its use to mostly non-commercial applications from 1 April 2022.

Are there any regulations to be aware of?

Yes – as gas oil is a rebated fuel and offers cost savings on fuel duty, its use is stringently regulated and it is clearly stipulated that gas oil is only to be used for specific purposes and industries. Gas oil must not be used in any road vehicles and to use it in such a way is a criminal offence. Some farm vehicles are able to use gas oil when travelling on public roads between farms, but the distance must not exceed 1.5km and both pieces of land must be owned by the same person. Additionally, vehicles used to grit roads in icy conditions are permitted to use gas oil whilst carrying out the gritting.

The rules on who can use gas oil and in which applications will be changing from 1 April 2022. The construction sector will be particularly affected. Heavy plant and equipment of all kinds, including NRMM (non-road mobile machinery), can currently run on gas oil when used for construction purposes, but this will no longer be permitted after the April deadline.

Other industries and applications that will no longer be able to rely on red diesel as a rebated fuel include leisure, manufacturing, mining and quarrying, oil and gas extraction, road maintenance, airport and seaport operations, plant hire, logistics and waste management, any commercial heating, and haulage—refrigeration units on lorries will also not be able to run on red diesel. Agricultural vehicles, however, are exempt from the rule changes, and can continue using red diesel as before.

Please see the latest Certas Energy statement for a summary of the gas oil tax legislation changes so far and how they may affect your business – please click here.

Gas oil or road diesel?

Whilst gas oil and road diesel are primarily the same type of fuel, road diesel does have a slightly higher cetane rating and can be more efficient for road vehicles. Both fuels can be used in the same way but, as explained, gas oil can only be used in accordance with government legislation. Using gas oil as an alternative to road diesel outside of the regulations is subject to significant fines.

Ordering gas oil

If you are looking to order gas oil for your business, Certas Energy can deliver to your sites across the UK as well as providing self-service at a range of our refuelling sites (bunker sites) and a selection of our fuel forecourts. Call your local team for further advice on 0345 600 4040 or request a quote online.

Why choose Certas for your gas oil?

 Certas Energy is the UK’s largest distributor of liquid fuel, supplying businesses with reliable fuel deliveries across the UK from its national network of 130 depots. With the industry’s largest fleet of more than 900 tankers, your fuel delivery can be from 500 litres up to 36,000 litres in one drop. As well as providing an assured and reliable supply of high-quality gas oil, we can guarantee expert advice from our on-hand specialist, friendly and professional teams for all our customers’ commercial fuel needs.

Speak to Certas Energy today and find out more about our competitive gas oil services.

Common FAQs about gas oil

Do I have to pay tax on gas oil?
Whilst gas oil is a rebated fuel, fuel tax duty is still applied – albeit at a lower rate than white diesel/DERV/road diesel. Prices for gas oil are lower due to this lower fuel duty. Please note: Gas oil tax legislation will be changing from 1st April 2022. Please see the latest Certas Energy statement for a summary of the gas oil tax legislation changes so far and how they may affect your business – please click here.
What is the EN590 standard?
The EN590 standard is the current emission standard, developed to reduce the sulphur content in diesel fuel. Fuels within this category are referred to as ‘ultra low sulphur fuels’ or ULSD (ultra low sulphur diesel) and gas oil fully complies with the EN590 standard.
What is the difference between gas and gas oil?
‘Gas’ is generally used as the shortened version of gasoline. Gasoline is essentially another term for petrol and is primarily used to fuel road vehicles. Gas oil is an ultra low sulphur fuel (ULSD) alternative and can be used only in accordance with UK legislation, for example in off-road plant and equipment in construction, agriculture and marine, as well as in other industries for heating and stand-by power generators.

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