Group Ranks Top Nations for Sulfur Reduction in Gasoline

The International Fuel Quality Center (IFQC) has updated its ranking of the top 100 countries based on sulfur limits in gasoline; Germany and Japan remained first and second, respectively, with the lowest limits.

"Sulfur reduction still remains a focal point in fuel quality improvement," said Liisa Kiuru, executive director, IFQC. "Even though some countries are already discussing low carbon fuels and other such measures, sulfur is still a key concern when it comes to emissions."

Sulfur is found naturally in crude oil; as a result, it passes into refined products, such as transportation fuels when crude is processed at the refinery. When sulfur is emitted into the air as a result of fuel combustion, its compounds have negative environmental and health effects. Environmental damage to forests, crops, and water supplies can result from long-term high sulfur emissions. Gasoline desulfurization improves engine efficiency and leads to reduced overall emissions of not just sulfur, but also hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxides.

Industry and policymakers around the world have placed emphasis on reducing sulfur limits in fuels for decades now, but variations in those limits remain. Overall, the majority of countries around the world are moving toward low sulfur fuels.

All EU countries placed within the top 50 now that 100 percent market penetration of "sulfur-free" (less than 10 ppm) fuels is required in the EU as of January 2009, furthering the region's role as a leader in clean fuels. This has bumped quite a few countries down (such as the United States, which ranked 44th). If California was a nation, it would have ranked 36th. However, the sulfur limits of all countries included in this ranking either improved or remained the same, making all the changes in rank attributable mainly to the improvement of sulfur limits in certain countries.

Oil-rich nations Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) again ranked in the top 50 for low sulfur limits in gasoline (Qatar 50th and UAE 47th). Two new countries in the top 100 this year include Jordan (52nd) and Laos (80th), while several others made remarkable improvements, such as South Korea, up by 29 spots to rank ninth (tied with 25 EU nations), and Morocco, up by 76 spots to rank 43rd.

The complete tables ranking the top 100 countries, along with last year's ranking, can be found at