HOUSTON, May 27 /PRNewswire/ --

The International Fuel Quality Center (IFQC) has ranked the top 100 countries based on sulfur limits in diesel; Sweden was found to be at the top of the ranking with the earliest implementation of the lowest sulfur limits. Following in second and third were Germany and Japan, respectively. The U.S. placed 34th overall.

"There is a tremendous need to address the overall increase in transportation emissions, especially as populations and their need for transportation continue to grow," said Liisa Kiuru, executive director, IFQC. "Additionally, desulfurization is expanding beyond on-road fuels -- efforts are now being focused on reducing sulfur limits in marine fuels, non- and off-road fuels, and home heating oil."

Diesel desulfurization dramatically improves tailpipe emissions. Sulfur acts as a poison to aftertreatment systems, so the lower the sulfur level, the more improved performance of these systems, which reduce emissions even further. However, taking sulfur out of diesel decreases the fuel's lubricity, which makes additives necessary to compensate. A clean and renewable solution is biodiesel -- adding as little as 1 vol% biodiesel to diesel can address certain lubricity problems caused by desulfurization.

Sulfur is a compound 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 also result from long-term high sulfur emissions, which contribute acid rain.

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; nearly 100% market penetration of 10 ppm (or "sulfur free") diesel is expected in the EU in 2009. These nations also ranked within the top 50 in a previous IFQC ranking of the top 100 countries based on gasoline sulfur limits, illustrating the region's overall dedication to cleaner fuels. Many Asian countries placed toward the top of the ranking, including South Korea (35th) and Hong Kong (36th), which came in right behind Canada (33rd) and the U.S. (34th). China is also making great strides in improving air quality before the Beijing Olympics this fall, having placed 65th in the ranking. Beijing has actually made tremendous progress ahead of the rest of the country, having implemented 50 ppm low sulfur gasoline and diesel in January 2008.

Sulfur levels of both gasoline and diesel can vary greatly in countries such as Brazil, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia. None of these countries made it into the IFQC's top 100 ranking for gasoline sulfur limits, but all of them did make the diesel sulfur limit ranking (Brazil at 68th, Malaysia at 79th and Saudi Arabia at 89th). The range of sulfur content varied dramatically amongst those nations that topped this ranking and those that did not -- countries at the bottom of the ranking allow for as much as 5,000 ppm sulfur in their diesel.

"Ultra low sulfur diesel levels are now allowing diesel-powered vehicles to make major improvements in reducing emissions and contributing to greenhouse gas reductions all over the world," said Frederick L. Potter, executive vice president, Hart Energy Publishing, LP. "We at HART and the IFQC congratulate industry and governments worldwide for the advances that have been made."

The complete tables ranking the top 100 countries by diesel sulfur standards can be found on the IFQC's Web site at http://www.ifqc.org.

HART Energy Consulting is a division of HART Energy Publishing, LP, one of the world's largest energy industry publishers, with a diverse array of informational products for the worldwide energy industry. Multi-client consulting services include the International Fuel Quality Center, the Global Biofuels Center and an annual Crude, Refining & Clean Transportation Fuel Outlook to 2025. Headquartered in Houston, with offices in New York, London, Washington, Brussels, Bahrain, Singapore, Mexico City and Moscow, HART Energy Publishing's market-leading publications include Oil and Gas Investor, E&P, FUEL and PipeLine & Gas Technology. HART also produces newsletters, custom publishing products, conferences, and unique multi- and single-client consulting services.

Press Contact: Florence Kosmala Director of Marketing HART Energy Consulting +1-713-260-6461 fkosmala@hartenergy.com Web site: http://www.hartenergy.com http://www.ifqc.org

Florence Kosmala, Director of Marketing, HART Energy Consulting, +1-713-260-6461, fkosmala@hartenergy.com, for the International Fuel Quality Center