Sulphur in Gasoline Regulations: frequently asked questions
The frequently asked questions (FAQs) below are meant to provide Canadians and businesses with basic information about the Sulphur in Gasoline Regulations.
1. What is the purpose of these regulations?
The purpose of the Sulphur in Gasoline Regulations (SiGR) is to reduce sulphur in gasoline. Sulphur occurs naturally in crude oil and therefore is found in gasoline. Sulphur in gasoline impairs the performance of catalytic converters in vehicles. Accordingly, continuing to take an integrated systems approach with respect to fuels and vehicles is critical to maximizing future reductions in air pollutant emissions resulting from the use of vehicles. These regulations along with vehicle emission standards reduce smog caused by air pollutants. Smog has a significant adverse impact on the health of Canadians, the Canadian economy and the environment.
2. What are the key elements of these regulations?
The Sulphur in Gasoline Regulations as amended in 2015, further lower the maximum allowable sulphur concentration in gasoline starting in 2017, under the authority of section 139 of Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.
The SiGR provide two exclusive regulatory compliance options: a default batch flat limit with minimal administrative requirements, or an annual gasoline pool average. An additional flexibility is also available on an interim basis (from 2012 to 2019), for refiners and importers that elect the annual pool average option.
Under the SiGR, the default batch flat limit for sulphur concentration is 40 parts per million (ppm or mg/kg) until the end of 2016, and will be reduced to 14 ppm for 2017, 2018 and 2019. For 2020 and beyond, the default batch flat limit will be 12 ppm.
The elective annual gasoline pool average compliance option remains at 30 ppm until the end of 2016, and will then be reduced to 10 ppm for 2017 and beyond. This option retains the current reporting, record-keeping, sample-retention, and audit requirements.
Those persons who opt to comply using the annual gasoline pool average can also opt to participate in a temporary sulphur compliance unit (SCU) trading system, which is applicable for the years 2012 -2019. During this period, volume-based sulphur compliance units (SCUs) could be generated from the production and importation of gasoline for which the annual average sulphur concentration is under 30 ppm during the years 2012-2016 and under 10 ppm during the years 2017-2019. These banked or traded SCUs could be used towards meeting regulatory compliance with the 10 ppm standard during the years 2017-2019.
The SiGR also have a never-to-be-exceeded batch limit of 80 ppm sulphur concentration in gasoline, applicable to gasoline imports and production using the annual pool average compliance option. This limit also applies to all gasoline sales.
3. How do these regulations affect Canadian businesses?
All businesses who produce (including by blending) or import gasoline must comply with these regulations. This specifically includes:
- any person who owns, leases, operates, controls, supervises or manages a refinery or blending facility or owns the gasoline in a blending facility; and
- any person who imports gasoline into Canada.
A range of compliance flexibilities have also been included in the regulations.
4. What is the timeline for implementation?
The Sulphur in Gasoline Regulations, originally made in 1990, first came into force on May 1, 2002, and continue to be in force under the authority of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. The 2015 amendments came into force on July 16, 2015. Regulatory options and limits include:
- Option to Comply with an Annual Average Sulphur Limit
- 30 parts per million (ppm) annual average limit per facility to 2016 (current limit)
- 10 ppm annual average limit per facility starting in 2017
- 80 ppm individual batch sulphur limit (current limit is retained for extra flexibility)
- option to participate in a temporary sulphur banking and trading system (2012-2019)
- Option to Comply with a Never-To-Exceed Flat Sulphur Limit
- 40 ppm retained to 2016 (current limit)
- 14 ppm for 2017-2019
- 12 ppm for 2020 and later
- not eligible to participate in the temporary sulphur banking and trading system
- option has minimal reporting requirements and provides important flexibility
5. Where can I get more information?
The following links provide additional information and guidance:
- Environment Canada’s Sulphur in Gasoline website
For more information and to receive email notifications of updates regarding Environment Canada’s actions on fuels, please contact Environment Canada at:
This document is intended to provide contextual information on the Sulphur in Gasoline Regulations. It does not replace the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 or the Sulphur in Gasoline Regulations. In the event of any inconsistencies, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 and the Sulphur in Gasoline Regulations shall prevail.
For more information
- The Cabinet Directive on Regulatory Management
- The Red Tape Reduction Action Plan
- The Canada-United States Regulatory Cooperation Council
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