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What is DERV Fuel? Road Diesel Fuel Guide

DERV fuel, which stands for Diesel Engine Road Vehicle, is used to power diesel engine road vehicles, fleets and equipment. Our fuel experts discuss the fuel in detail in this guide.

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DERV Fuel Guide – Learn More About DERV Road Diesel Fuel


Despite the widespread use of DERV, there are some uncertainties that surround the fuel’s use, including its tax and price. Crown Oil is a leading bulk DERV supplier with almost 75 years of history supplying UK businesses with millions of litres of DERV every year, so our fuel experts are well placed to discuss this and more below.

What is DERV?

DERV is Diesel Engine Road Vehicle fuel that’s used to power equipment, as well as anything with a diesel engine, such as cars, vans and lorries; as well as boats, ships, trains and many other types of passenger vehicles. Other common names for DERV include white diesel and road diesel.

DERV uses the compression ignition engine, named after its inventor, Rudolf Diesel.

Before the discovery of crude oil distillation, Rudolf originally designed his engine to use coal dust as fuel and also trialled vegetable oil – a concept that eventually influenced biodiesel and HVO fuel production today.

What is DERV used for?

DERV is used to power road vehicles, and in theory, can be used in any diesel-powered engine, however it’s more commonly used in lorries, HGVs (Heavy Goods Vehicles), LCVs (Light Commercial Vehicles), vans, trains, buses and coaches.

DERV sees prevalent use in businesses that operate vehicle fleets that transport goods over both long and short distances.

Other names for DERV
  • Diesel
  • Road diesel
  • Road DERV
  • White diesel
  • Ultra-low sulphur diesel (ULSD)
Who can supply me with DERV?

Crown Oil is a leading UK supplier of DERV so you can rely on us for your business fuel supply. We can deliver it in quantities ranging from 205-litre barrels up to 36,000 litres in one single tanker. If you need a larger supply, we can simply send more tankers!

Thanks to our strategically placed fuel depots, we offer some of the fastest DERV delivery times in the industry, with a 24-48-hour service as standard. We can even deliver your diesel within just a few hours via our emergency fuel service.

Call 0330 123 1444 to speak to a DERV fuel specialist.

How much is DERV?

Unlike red diesel (gas oil) which is currently rebated to bring down business costs, government duty tax applies to DERV fuel.

It’s impossible to publish fixed DERV prices online as the cost varies daily due to influences on the global oil market such as conflicts in the Middle East.

As a national leading DERV supplier with vast buying power, we’re proud to offer some of the most competitive prices in the industry. Call us today on 0330 123 1444 for a competitive and no obligation DERV quote.

What is the tax on DERV?

DERV carries a VAT rate of 20%. Vehicles with lower emissions, such as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), compressed natural gas (CNG) and electric vehicles are taxed at lower duty rates.

UK fuel duty is currently 57.95 pence per litre for diesel.

Fuel type (road fuel)Fuel duty
Ultra-Low Sulphur Diesel57.95 ppl
Ultra-Low Sulphur Petrol57.95 ppl
Bioethanol57.95 ppl
Biodiesel57.95 ppl
Liquefied petroleum gas31.61 p/kg
Natural gas24.7 p/kg
Electricity0.0 p/kWh

DERV has similar properties to gas oil (red diesel), so it’s important to know the rules and difference in tax rates. Red diesel is currently a rebated fuel so has a much lower tax rate of 5% for volumes below 2,300 litres. However, the Chancellor announced at Budget 2021, that red diesel tax is also being scrapped for a number of industries which means businesses will soon have to opt for DERV or cleaner-burning fuels such as HVO. Read more on the change in red diesel tax here.  

Fuel duty has also been frozen until the end of the 2021/22 financial year, which means that it will have been frozen for at least a decade, the longest freeze for over 40 years.

DERV specifications

All diesel in Europe must meet the EN 590 standard for low sulphur content diesel which describes the properties diesel fuel must meet when used in road vehicles and agricultural machinery.

EN 590 exceeds BS 2869 gas oil standards, so all diesel engines in Europe are designed with this in mind. These engines must all meet Euro 6 standards.

Currently, EN 590 diesel also requires up to 7% of bio content (Fatty Acid Methyl Ester, FAME).

As well as the required fuel specifications, DERV is also adjusted seasonally to reduce the risk of gelling and maintain good low-temperature performance. Winter grade is supplied by default from 15 November – 15th March while summer grade diesel is supplied between 16th March and 14th November. This happens automatically at the refinery and there is no need to request this.

Read more on this in our Winter Blend vs Summer Blend Red Diesel Guide.

How must DERV be stored?

DERV should be kept in a dedicated storage tank that’s located in a cool and dry place. This is to help prolong its shelf life and reduce the risk of contamination.

Permanent onsite storage steel tanks are commonly used to store diesel, or portable 45-gallon drums if fuel users need to easily transport DERV or don’t have the fixed storage facilities.

There is actually a legal limit on how much DERV you can store as it presents a risk to both yourself and the environment. When handled incorrectly, it’s a dangerous and highly flammable substance. Different regulations apply depending on where you’re storing DERV, how much you’re storing and what you’re using the fuel for.

Read more on this in our dedicated Oil Tank Storage Regulations Guide.

How long can DERV be stored for?

Providing good tank maintenance and the storage conditions discussed above, DERV can be stored for between 6 and 12 months. If you’re storing diesel for any longer, it’s important to invest in regular fuel testing by a professional company to help reduce the risk of contamination.

Can DERV become contaminated?

Diesel fuel contains 7% FAME (Fatty Acid Methyl Esters) as it’s a practical necessity for suppliers to meet their RTFO obligations. However, this makes DERV highly vulnerable to microbial attack (contamination) when in storage.

FAME is hygroscopic and attracts water, which creates the perfect breeding conditions for diesel bug, sludge, and biomass to grow. This significantly reduces the quality of DERV and leads to clogged filters and engine breakages.

How can contaminated DERV be treated?

At Crown Oil, we offer fuel polishing to customers when their stored diesel has only a small amount of contamination in it. Fuel polishing essentially cleans DERV using a fixed polishing unit and can be done with little to no disruption in your operations.

However, if DERV is highly contaminated with diesel bug, then fuel polishing will not be suitable and we can instead uplift your fuel and supply a fresh batch of DERV straight into your tank. We would usually conduct a tank clean too to remove any sludge or biomass that has occurred when storing contaminated DERV.

What sustainable alternatives are there to DERV?

Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO fuel) is a 100% renewable diesel fuel that’s produced from fully renewable and sustainable materials such as vegetable oils. As a paraffinic diesel fuel, it is virtually chemically identical to DERV, so can be used as a drop-in alternative without engine modification or additional infrastructure.

Using a sustainable alternative in place of DERV offers many benefits, including:

  • 100% renewable, sustainable and biodegradable
  • Reduces up to 90% of net CO2 emissions
  • Reduces notifiable NOx, CO and PM emissions
  • Up to 10 year storage life
  • Can be used as a direct diesel replacement
  • Year-round performance
  • FAME and ester-free
  • Odourless, and free from aromatics, sulphur and metals
What do I do if DERV has spilled?

If your DERV has spilled, you must act fast. If it’s only a small amount of DERV, you can use a spill kit to help contain the oil. We supply these at Crown Oil, as well as a wide range of additional ancillary products to help with the safe storage and handling of fuels.

If the DERV cannot be contained using a spill kit, you must contact a specialist as soon as possible to help avoid further damage to the environment and potentially harming wildlife or anyone nearby. DERV spills can cost tens of thousands of pounds in remedial and legal implications.

Crown Oil specialises in emergency DERV spill response and can come to your rescue straight away. If you suspect an oil spill, call 0330 123 1444 right away.

Still have unanswered questions regarding DERV? Just give us a call on 0330 123 1444 to speak to a fuel specialist.

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