Petrol is one of the most used fuels in road transport along with diesel. It is a fossil fuel derived from petroleum.

Differences between petrol and diesel

Here are two important differences:

- Petrol is less dense than diesel and contains less energy per litre. It requires more litres of petrol than of diesel to generate the same amount of energy.

- Petrol engines are inherently less efficient than diesel engines. They consume more energy to travel the same number of kilometres. This poorer performance is mainly due to the fact that there has been less development in this area since they are not so financially attractive.

Environmental consequences: which type of engine is better?

CO2 emissions and the consumption of a petrol engine are higher than a diesel engine with comparable performance.

However, petrol engines emit less particulate matter (PM) and less nitrogen oxides (NOx). Both these pollutants are considered hazardous to health.

As a result, vehicles with petrol engine are suggested more for use in urban areas because:

• on the one hand, they emit less hazardous pollutants in high population density areas,
• on the other hand, even if they emit more CO2, they travel shorter distances.

This difference is tending to decrease progressively with the strengthening of pollutant emission standards.

Production imbalance

Currently, the fuel demand in Europe and Belgium is highly unbalanced. Petrol production exceeds demand whereas diesel production is less than the demand.

This is mainly due to the vehicle fleet composition that comprises mainly of diesel engine vehicles.

This imbalance requires:

• performing additional processing in refinery to try and bridge this difference in production;
• importing diesel and exporting petrol.