A Short Guide To Red Diesel

Introduction to Red Diesel

Like so many fuels in our industry, red diesel has collected an impressive number of alternative monikers and nicknames over the years. Red diesel is sometimes referred to as rebated diesel, medium diesel, agricultural diesel, tractor diesel, marine diesel, cherry juice, cherry red, gas oil, and 35 second oil. Quite the list! The ‘35 second oil’ name refers to the amount of time it takes for 50ml of red diesel to pass from one container to another at 40oC, a test of its viscosity! Kerosene gained the nickname ’28 second oil’ through this same method.

What is Red Diesel and How is it Different from Standard White Diesel?

Red diesel gets its primary name from two different sourced. The ‘red’ in red diesel is meant to be shorthand for ‘rebated’, referring to its status as a fuel exempt from certain taxes. Red diesel is intended for use in industrial and commercial applications, so it is sold at a lower tax rate than the standard white diesel you use in your car, which makes it much cheaper. This is where red diesel’s other namesake emerges. Red diesel has red dye added to it to visually distinguish it from white diesel, and to stain the engines of vehicles which use it for police to check for illegal usage. Other than this dye, red diesel and white diesel are identical fuels!

Who is Allowed to Use Red Diesel?

Up until earlier this year, use of red diesel was permitted in far more industries than it is now. In April 2022 the UK government brought in new regulations removing access to rebated fuels like red diesel from multiple industries, in an attempt to reduce national emissions and move toward Net Zero targets. Construction companies and recycling centres were removed from the list of approved industries, while using red diesel for commercial heating or power was also made illegal. These industries will now have to use white diesel at a much higher price.

Even so, many industries are still allowed to access red diesel and benefit from its low tax status. These industries are permitted to continue using red diesel following the new regulations coming into place in April 2022:

  • Agriculture
  • Horticulture
  • Forestry
  • Aquatic farming
  • Industrial maritime shipping
  • Commercial maritime transport
  • Non-propulsion usage on private maritime craft
  • Residential or non-commercial heating and power