Crude oil greenhouse gas emissions calculation methodology for the Fuel Quality Directive

Published: 2015.12.04

Chris Malins, Sebastian Galarza, Anil Baral, Gary Howorth, Adam Brandt

In 2009, the European Union (EU) amended the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) to introduce a target for European transport fuel suppliers to reduce the life cycle carbon intensity of their fuel by at least 6% by the end of 2020. The introduction of this target made the FQD part of a growing international trend to regulate life cycle emissions from the fuel sector. The FQD is a performance-based standard under which performance is assessed through life cycle analysis (LCA). The life cycle approach seeks to measure the amount of carbon equivalent emissions that result from the whole process of production of transportation fuels, from their extraction or cultivation to their refinement or processing (so called “well-to-wheel” emissions). The measurement of these emissions defines the carbon intensity (CI) of each fuel type.

The International Council on Clean Transportation, working with Stanford University and Energy Redefined, was contracted by the European Commission to report on possible calculation frameworks to estimate and report the life cycle GHG emissions from oil-based transport fuels placed in the EU market. In particular, the focus of this work is on possible "hybrid" reporting schemes. Under a hybrid scheme, transport fuel suppliers would be given the option to either "opt-in" to report a default value for each batch of fuel, or "opt-out" and provide an actual calculation of the carbon intensity of that fuel batch. This report outlines the basis of a reporting system for both default and actual carbon intensities at the crude trade name level, based on the use of the Oil Production Greenhouse Gas Emissions Estimator (OPGEE). Building on work presented by Malins et al. (2014), this report suggests a methodology based on "representative crudes" for setting default values. Finally, the report presents estimates of carbon intensities calculated with OPGEE for a set of marketed crude oils that represent the bulk of the European crude oil mix.