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Parliamentary questions
19 January 2011
Answer given by Mr Potočnik on behalf of the Commission

Directive 1999/32/EC(1) on the sulphur content of certain liquid fuels regulates the sulphur content of heating oil. This directive reduced the sulphur content of heating oil gradually to 0.20 % in July 2000 and to 0.10 % in January 2008.

Concurrent with the introduction of the 0.10 % limit, articles in British newspapers suggested that an increase in boiler problems might result from this new sulphur requirement. The Commission started to receive similar inquiries that were related to problems with AGA cookers. Since the problems seem to be restricted to boilers operated in the UK, the Commission forwarded the allegations to the UK Petroleum Industry Association (UKPIA).

In its reply UKPIA outlined that the introduction of the 0.10 % limit for kerosene used for heating oil has not affected UK refinery kerosene production because most batches were already below this limit. In the year 2007 the average sulphur content of heating oil supplied by UK refineries was 0.032 %, whilst similar values were detected in previous years. The sulphur content of kerosene that was imported prior to 2008 may have been higher albeit lower than 0.20 %. The kerosene sources are now understood to have changed in order to comply with the new requirement. UKPIA is of the view that the reduction of the sulphur content is not the cause for the coking in AGA cookers.

In general, the lower sulphur concentration should not affect the heating characteristics of kerosene as it leaves 99.9 % of the fuel unchanged. The nature of the increased carbon deposits in AGA cookers therefore remains unclear.

(1)OJ L 121, 11.5.1999.

OJ C 265 E, 09/09/2011
Last updated: 26 January 2011Legal notice