re FuelsEurope - Glossary



Abatement costs

In economics, abatement costs are the expenses many businesses incur for the removal and/or reduction of an undesirable item they have created. Corporations generally experience abatement costs when they are required to reduce by-products generated during production. A common example is greenhouse gas emissions.

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B/D (Barrels per Day)

Barrels per Day is a unit of measurement for oil output that refers to the number of barrels of oil produced/consumed in one single day.

Barrel of oil

A standard oil barrel contains almost 159 litres - 158.98 to be precise (42 US gallons or 35 imperial gallons), and weighs approximately 0.134 tonnes. Today, most petroleum is moved via pipelines or oil tankers, so the use of the term ‘barrel’ is now used as a unit of measurement instead of an actual container.


Also known as drop-in fuels, biofuels are organic materials capable of being turned into fuels. They currently account for around 3% of all energy used for transportation in Europe. So far, almost all biofuels used in Europe are “first generation”, meaning they are derived from such food crops as wheat, sugar beet and vegetable oils. The fuel industry is currently engaged in research and development projects aimed at harnessing the potential of a new generation of biofuels, sometimes referred to as “advanced biofuels” or “second generation”, derived from new feedstocks like straw, corn stover, wood waste, algae and other biomass.


Also known as asphalt, bitumen is a black viscous mixture of hydrocarbons either obtained naturally or as a residue from petroleum distillation. It is used for road surfacing and roofing.

Blend wall

Used in reference to the compatibility limit (or lack of compatibility) when biofuels are blended with petroleum fuels. The structural differences between biofuel and petroleum molecules create numerous problems when mixed together. For example, biofuels cannot be transported or stored in facilities designed for ‘ordinary’ petroleum fuel. Currently, only about 7% of biodiesel can be blended with normal diesel.

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Cabotage restrictions

This term refers to the restrictions placed on cargo transport operations carried out within one Member State by transportation vehicles coming from another EU Member State. The European Union is committed to lifting existing cabotage restrictions by 2014, making it easier for truck drivers to carry goods between Member States. The purpose of such measures is to avoid creating situations where trucks are forced to return home from their international transport operations with an empty load, which wastes time and fuel and produces unnecessary emissions. In EU countries it is estimated that ‘empty travel’ may average up to 35% of all truck traffic.

Car scrapping incentives

A car scrapping programme involves a series of government incentives, such as tax rebates, aimed at stimulating  the automobile industry by encouraging the replacement of old, inefficient and high emissions vehicles with newer, greener ones.

Catalytic converter

A catalytic converter is an emission control device used in internal combustion engines that converts toxic chemicals into less polluting substances. They are a common component in car, truck, train, bus and aeroplane engines.


Cetane, also known as Hexadecane, is an alkane hydrocarbon often used to measure the combustion quality of diesel fuel (‘cetane rating’) and as a reference for the quality of several fuel mixtures.


Compressed Natural Gas is a fossil fuel generally considered less polluting and safer than other fuels. CNG is used in bi-fuel vehicles with internal combustion engines, although it requires more fuel storage space than conventional gasoline powered vehicles.


Also known as petroleum coke or petcoke, coke is the solid, non-volatile carbon residue found after petroleum is distilled and cracked. It is mainly used by the metallurgic industry.


Conservation of Clean Air and Water in Europe is an organisation funded by the European oil industry to monitor the health, safety and environmental performance of the oil refining industry. Established in 1963 by a small group of companies, it now includes most EU oil companies. Its research focus has gradually expanded in line with societal concerns over the same issues. CONCAWE’s studies cover such areas as fuel quality and emissions, air quality, water quality, soil contamination, waste, occupational health and safety, petroleum product stewardship and cross-country pipeline performance.

Crude oil

Also known as petroleum, crude oil is a flammable viscous liquid made up of a complex mixture of hydrocarbon organic compounds found beneath the Earth's crust.

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Diesel/Gasoline imbalance

The Diesel/Gasoline imbalance is a term used to describe the increasing consumption of diesel oil and the parallel decreasing demand for gasoline, a phenomenon that began 20 years ago and has led to excess gasoline-production capacity and a shortage of diesel production in Europe.


The petroleum industry is commonly divided into three segments: upstream, midstream and downstream. The downstream oil sector refers to crude refiners and the sellers and distributors of products derived from crude oil and natural gas.

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An Emission Controlled Area is where strict emission controls apply. For example, in Europe, the Baltic Sea and the North Sea became the first ECAs (formerly known as Sulphur Emission Controlled Areas or SECAs), and were created to reduce emissions from the shipping industry operating in the area. By 2015, the maximum permissible sulphur content in ECAs is scheduled to be cut to 0.1%.


The Emissions Trading System is part of the EU’s 2020 targets aimed at considerably reducing CO2 emissions. Under the scheme, all companies emitting CO2 (carbon dioxide) must report their emissions and return an equivalent amount of emission allowances.

EU Energy Mix

The European Union’s Energy Mix indicates the desired share of coal, nuclear, gas and renewable energies fuelling Europe’s energy demand. Currently, oil meets nearly half of the EU’s energy demand, which is expected to remain a key component of the energy mix until at least 2030.


The European Bitumen Association is a Brussels-based trade association aimed at promoting the efficient, effective and safe use of refined bitumen in road, industrial and building applications throughout Europe. Its membership includes national and pan-European bitumen producers and national bitumen associations, representing around two thirds of the European market.


The European Petroleum Industry Association represents Europe’s oil refining and marketing industry. Its 16 members, who include Europe’s leading oil companies, account for around 80% of EU petroleum refining capacity and 75% of EU motor fuel retail sales.

Excise taxes

Excise taxes are indirect taxes imposed by a government when purchases are made on manufacturing or distributing a specific good (fuel) or activity (highway usage by trucks).

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Fatty-Acid Methyl Ester is a biodiesel made from animal fats, vegetable oils or recycled restaurant greases blended with diesel to create a cleaner fuel. Due to chemical compatibility problems (the so-called Blend Wall), only 7% of FAME can be blended with conventional diesel and, due to the same issue, it cannot be used in aircraft fuel.


The 1998 Fuel Quality Directive, aimed at protecting EU citizens and their environment, sets the specifications for petrol, diesel and gasoil used in cars, trucks and other vehicles. It was revised in 2009 to include a requirement for fuel suppliers to reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of energy supplied for road transport. In addition, it also established sustainability criteria for biofuels that must be met to count towards the greenhouse gas intensity reduction obligation.

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GHG (Greenhouse Gas)

Greenhouse Gases are chemical compounds found in the atmosphere. These gases trap infrared rays, thus preserving a temperature suitable for life on Earth. Examples of GHG are water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and ozone. Some of these gases also occur as a result of industrial activities, leading to an increase  in global temperatures and firmly placing GHGs at the centre of the global warming debate.

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Hybrid cars

A hybrid operates with both a petrol engine and electric motor. The electric motor reduces the petrol engine’s workload, resulting in improvements in environmental and fuel efficiency. Manufacturing costs of electric-only vehicles are quite high in comparison to conventional cars: an electric engine is currently 30 times more expensive than a diesel one.

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The International Air Transport Association is an international organisation representing 240 passenger and cargo airlines, accounting for approximately 84% of total air traffic. IATA works with decision makers to improve understanding of the industry and increase awareness of the many benefits that aviation brings to national and global economies.


The International Energy Agency is an autonomous organisation conducting energy-related research for its 28 member countries. First established in the wake of the 1973–1974 oil crisis, the agency promotes a dialogue on global energy by providing authoritative and unbiased research, statistics, analysis and recommendations.


The Industrial Emissions Directive, formerly known as the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive (IPPC), is a measure being introduced by European legislators and aimed at limiting atmospheric pollutant emissions from industrial sources. Operators of EU-based industrial installations are required to obtain a permit from authorities.


Indirect Land Use Change is a phenomenon that occurs when land formerly used for food crop is turned over to the production of biofuels. As a result, cultivation of the displaced food crop is often transferred to a location where land prices and the costs associated with agriculture are lower, such as grasslands and forests.


The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is the United Nations’ specialised agency responsible for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.

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Liquefied Natural Gas is an odourless, colourless and non-toxic liquefied form of natural gas. It is  converted into a liquid so it can be easily transported across terrestrial and maritime regions. Using LNG rather than natural gas also reduces the carbon intensity of transporting this fuel, resulting in substantial environmental savings.


Liquefied Petroleum Gas (also called GPL, LP Gas or liquid propane gas) is a fuel obtained by refining petroleum or natural gas. It is commonly used in heating appliances and vehicles and is usually commercialised in several varieties, including propane and butane.

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The MARPOL Convention is the main international agreement for protecting marine environments from pollution caused by ships. Over the past few decades it has been amended several times. The proposed tightening of the MARPOL specifications scheduled in the next decade present a number of challenges for the EU refining industry.


The petroleum industry is commonly divided into three segments: upstream, midstream and downstream. The midstream sector processes, stores, markets and transports crude oil, natural gas and various natural gas liquids.

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National Oil Industry Associations collectively represent the refining oil industry in 25 European Member States.


Nitrogen oxide, or NOx, is a generic term referring to mono-nitrogen oxides NO and NO2 (nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide). These gases are emitted during high temperature fuel combustion in motor vehicles, electric utilities and other industrial or residential sources. Following the Seveso incident and the consequent European legislation of the 1980s, European refiners have started implementing strict measures to reduce the impact of NOx emissions and other volatile compounds.

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Octane is an alkane hydrocarbon used for measuring engine performance (octane rating), which tells the user the level of fuel that can be compressed by an engine before it spontaneously combusts. The higher the octane number, the more compression the fuel can tolerate.


The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is a Paris-based international organisation representing 34 countries. It was founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade.


An Original Equipment Manufacturer is a company manufacturing original parts and components. When referring to automotive parts, OEM designates a replacement part made by the manufacturer of the original part.

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Particulate matter

Particulate matter, also simply referred to as particulates, are miniscule traces of solid matter suspended in a gas or liquid that can be emitted through industrial processes like refining. To protect citizens against particulate matter, the European Union has set some of the world’s most stringent air quality requirements.

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Seveso Directive

The Seveso Directive is a European Union law named after the Seveso Disaster. In 1976 a chemical plant manufacturing pesticides and herbicides in the Italian Lombardy region exploded, causing the evacuation of 600 people, with as many as 2,000 having to be treated for dioxin poisoning. The first version of the Directive was approved in 1982 and has since been reviewed on various occasions by the European institutions. Recent amendments have focused on the prevention of major accidents involving dangerous substances and limiting their consequences for both people and the environment.


Sulfur oxide, or SOx, is a generic term referring to compounds SO and SO2, gases released during the industrial process of extracting gasoline by treating such raw materials as crude oil and coal. Following the EU Seveso Directive, European refiners have complied with some of the most stringent air quality regulations and, as a result, have halved the amount of sulphur emitted by EU refineries since 1998.

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Tonnes of Oil Equivalent measures the amount of energy released by burning one tonne of crude oil. MTOE is a multiple measure indicating one million tonne of crude oil.


A unit of transportation measuring the amount of energy (in tonnes of oil equivalent) released by a vehicle per kilometre.


The Thematic Strategy for Air Pollution has been developed to achieve the agreed upon overall EU health and environment objectives in the least costly manner. The plan indicates that Emission Limit Values (ELV) should not be uniform across the EU, but determined according to their impact. As a consequence, overly stringent EU-wide binding limits in the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) proposal are in conflict with this approach of EU-wide optimisation.

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Unconventional oil and gas

Unconventional petroleum and gas are produced or extracted from the soil using techniques other than conventional drilling methods. Oil sands, biomass-based liquid supplies, oil and gas shales and coalbed methane are some of the most common examples of unconventional reserves. The IEA estimates that at current production rates, global proven conventional and unconventional reserves add up to approximately 46 years of oil. According to the IEA, the volume of ultimately recoverable resources is estimated to be much larger than proven reserves.


The petroleum industry is commonly divided into three segments: upstream, midstream and downstream. The upstream oil sector refers to the searching, recovery and production of crude oil and natural gas, and is often referred to as the exploration and production sector.

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Volatile Organic Compounds are polluting gases emitted during industrial production. The different oil-related sectors have been putting efforts into reducing greenhouse gas emissions, with visible improvements, as seen on the image below.

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A well-to-wheel (WTW) analysis assesses the overall efficiency and compliance with environmental standards of energy conversion technology. The analysis is follows the path from the original source to its final use. For example, a WTW analysis demonstrates that only 15% of greenhouse gas emissions from petroleum based transport fuels occur in the production phase, while about 85% are emitted during consumption.

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