Brussels motorists filling up with “Red diesel”

Drivers faced with rises in the price of diesel at the pumps are no turning to the illegal practice of filling up their vehicles with diesel intended to be used as heating fuel. The level of excise levied on diesel used as heating fuel is far lower that levied on diesel intended as fuel for cars lorries and busses. 

Heating fuel is coloured with a red dye so that it can be distinguished from other diesel. Consequently it is known colloquially as “red diesel”.  

A journalist from the Brussels regional news platform Bruzz discovered that red diesel was being openly promoted and sold to motorists at a number of filling stations in the capital. The use of red diesel in motor vehicles in forbidden by law and anyone caught using it in their car, lorry or bus risks a stiff fine.

There is nothing illegal in a filling station selling red diesel. However, the filling stations that a VRT News team visited were also turning a blind eye to their customers filling their vehicles up with the fuel that is intended for use as heating oil only.      

Red Diesel is considerably less expensive than normal diesel, costing around 93 eurocent at the fuel station we visited. This is more than 50 cents cheaper than standard diesel. A lorry driver filling up a 500 litre fuel tank would save 250 euro by taking the risk and filling up with illegal red diesel.

Although, filling stations are turning a blind eye to what is an illegal practice, the responsibility ultimately lies with the customers.

Anyone caught with red diesel in their fuel tank risks a fine between 500 and 1,250 euros. Those accused of large scale diesel fraud could be fined up to 5,000 euro. Red diesel leaves trace of red dye in a vehicle’s fuel tank and is easy to trace.  

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