Policy on fuels for road traffic outside of Europe

Fuel produced in the Netherlands for road transport in Europe (including the Netherlands) must meet strict requirements. Some of the fuels produced in the Netherlands are destined for countries outside Europe. These fuels are often of different, lower quality and cause more pollution. The ILT wants to change this by introducing policy rules that will enter into force on 15 August 2022.

The core of the policy rule is that companies make an effort to prevent negative consequences of their actions on human health and the environment. In the Netherlands, this is called a ‘duty of care’. This duty of care is stated in Section of the Dutch Environmental Management Act.

Harmful substances

By producing low-quality fuels, fuel producers do not fulfil this duty of care, as these fuels contain high levels of harmful substances (benzene, sulphur and manganese). Therefore, from 1 April 2023, companies are only allowed to produce and export road transport fuels containing a maximum of 50ppm sulphur, 1% benzene and 2mg/l manganese. Until then, transitional specifications will apply.

Major exporter

The Netherlands is a major producer and exporter of road transport fuels worldwide. About 30-40% of petrol on the Nigerian market is produced in the Netherlands. Fuels imported by Nigeria are also resold to other West African countries. Compliance with the ILT policy rule by Dutch exporters can therefore have a noticeable positive effect.

Level playing field

With the policy rule, the ILT ensures fair competition within the Netherlands. However, the Netherlands is not the only exporter of low-quality fuels. In the interest of a European and international level playing field, the ILT shares relevant information with the relevant Dutch ministries, foreign supervising authorities and UNEP. In addition, there is an important role for the sector to make its own agreements on fuel quality.

Oil industry

When drawing up the policy rule, the ILT talked to the Dutch oil sector. Making cleaner fuels for export outside Europe is very well possible. After all, the sector also produces cleaner fuels for the European and American markets. Since September 2021, Shell is supplying higher quality fuel from the Netherlands than the importing countries in West Africa have indicated. The ILT is confident that other companies will follow this example after the publication of the policy rule.


After publication of the policy rules, the ILT will closely monitor compliance by Dutch oil companies and traders. Based on this, it will organise its supervision according to the National Enforcement Strategy. It cooperates with the supervising authorities of the recipient countries in order to organise supervision effectively. The ILT may, for example, impose an order subject to a penalty on companies that fail to adequately fulfil their duty of care.