White Diesel FAQ

We have compiled comprehensive answers to the most frequently asked questions about White Diesel (DERV), also known as white or road diesel. Our goal is to provide you with the information you need to make informed decisions about your fuel choices.

18 Frequently asked questions about DERV

White Diesel, also known as DERV, is the fuel of choice for a number of industries in the UK. Not to mention one of the most popular fuels for road vehicles.

We have been supplying DERV to our customers for more than 14 years and, in that time, we have learned a lot about the fuel. Our FAQs address some of the most commonly asked questions we receive about diesel.

1. What is White Diesel?

Many cars, vans, trucks, trains and HGVs across the UK run on DERV, which is another name for white diesel. It’s a distillate of crude oil, and is one of the most prevalent fuels used around the world.

2. What does DERV stand for?

DERV stands for Diesel Engine Road Vehicle. The name is most often used by the fuel industry to differentiate white or road diesel from red diesel, which is a tax-rebated fuel reserved for off-road use.

You can find out more about red diesel in our red diesel guide.

3. Why is white diesel sometimes called DERV?

There are two main types of diesel products sold in the UK: DERV (Diesel Engine Road Vehicle) and gas oil (red diesel).

Gas oil is subject to a lower tax rate than DERV, so can only be used in off-road vehicles, generators and heating applications.

DERV is taxed at the full rate of 57.95p per litre* but isn’t subject to the same usage restrictions as gas oil. The fuel and oil industry regularly use the name DERV to differentiate the two fuels.

4. What colour is white diesel?

DERV isn’t actually white, despite it sometimes being known as white diesel. It’s actually amber/green in colour and will be clear and bright. Some countries mix dyes into DERV to better differentiate it from other fuels, but this isn’t the case in the UK.

5. Are there different grades for DERV?

Yes, there are two varieties of DERV: summer and winter grades. The main distinction between the two is that winter grade diesel is formulated with additives to improve its performance in colder temperatures. Without these additives, DERV is susceptible to “waxing,” a process in which paraffin crystals form in the fuel and can lead to significant problems.

6. What is DERV used for?

DERV is mostly used as a fuel for cars, vans, and motor fleets on the road. It’s the most common road fuel in the UK, with almost twice the amount of petrol sold in 2020.

7. What other names is DERV known by? 

DERV is known by a number of names, including:

  • White diesel
  • Road diesel
  • Diesel
  • Forecourt diesel
  • Ultra-low sulphur diesel (USLD)

8. Are DERV and red diesel the same fuel?

DERV and red diesel have similar properties, so it’s important to understand the tax differences when choosing fuel.

The government duty tax applies to DERV fuel at a rate of 57.95 per litre, while red diesel, a rebated fuel, has a much lower tax rate of 5% for volumes below 2300 litres and 20% for higher volumes.

The rules for using red diesel have changed, and it’s now illegal to use it in road-going vehicles.

9. Does DERV contain FAME?

Yes, DERV contains a percentage of FAME content.

Changes to the RTFO (road Transport Fuel Obligations) in 2019 increased the percentage of biofuel content in fuel from 5% to 8%.

This biofuel content is usually FAME, also known as Fatty Acid Methyl Ester, and it has similar characteristics to DERV but with significantly less environmental impact.

However, FAME can cause problems for diesel over time, such as:

– Shorter shelf life
– Increased risk of diesel bug attacks, which can clog filters and fuel lines
– Absorbing moisture from the air, leading to more water in the diesel
– Poor performance in cold weather due to waxing

Because of these issues, it’s important to regularly maintain the fuel. We offer services to help businesses prevent and fix these problems – learn more here.

10. How much is DERV?

It’s almost impossible for us to determine what the price of DERV will be. The prices fluctuates based on global factors such as the price of crude oil, and individual circumstances, including how much you want to purchase and your delivery location. 

Call our fuel team today on 0330 128 9838.

11. What’s the safest way to store DERV?

The safest way to store diesel at your premises is in a bunded tank that’s both accessible and sheltered from the elements.

12. How long can you store DERV for?

There are two primary forms of diesel contamination: physical and microbial.

Physical contamination involves the presence of synthetic or organic materials in the diesel, such as plant debris, small insects, or rust from metal tanks in outdoor storage.

Microbial contamination occurs when fungi and bacteria thrive in the diesel, leading to increased moisture and sludge accumulation. These microbes naturally feed on the fuel’s hydrocarbons, causing the fuel to degrade at a faster rate as the bacteria multiply.

13. How do you clean contaminated diesel?

Yes – most of minor fuel contamination can be resolved onsite by polishing your fuel.

Fuel polishing is a vital service to conduct periodically by any companies storing large quantities of fuel for extended periods, especially if you regularly use the same tanks or tankers! If you work in the fuel industry, you likely already polish your fuel every 12-18 months to ensure it is kept in impeccable condition. Contaminated fuel is less efficient and can cause damage to your vehicles or machines, so regular fuel polishing is paramount to prevent and remote contaminants!

14. What should I do if I spill DERV?

Any fuel spillage is very dangerous because of the highly flammable nature of the product, and can also result in damage to the environment. If it is a small amount of DERV that is spilled, first thing you need to do is ensure is prevent any further spillage (if it is safe to do so).

Try to clear the spilled fuel as quickly and safely as possible; remember, fuel fumes can be toxic in enclosed environments! 

If a large amount of DERV has spilled, it’s essential that you contact 0330 128 9838.

Common fuel types we supply are:

Order your fuel with us and we’ll monitor your usage and help you save money too. Call 0330 128 9838.

Why choose Compass Fuels?

  • 100% UK nationwide delivery coverage.
  • Rapid delivery times – Our standard delivery time is next-day but ask us about same-day deliveries.
  • Flexible credit terms – Up to 30 days following month of invoice for customers paying via direct debit.
  • 24/7 – 365 days order line & help desk.
  • One stop shop – 1 number for everything fuel related – 0330 128 9838.
  • Fuel bowser hire & sales, spill containment equipment and fuel pumping equipment.
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