Grangemouth-based Petroineos, operator of the only crude oil refinery in Scotland, has announced it will reduce the volume of biodiesel in its agricultural fuel.
Refinery chiefs performed the u-turn after the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Michael Matheson MSP, and the Department for Transport in London agreed to grant a temporary derogation from the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO), which specified that refined diesel must contain 7 per cent biodiesel.
This rule tied the hands of refineries, which had been inundated with complaints from fuel suppliers as their customers struggled with blocked fuel filters and loss of power in their tractors.
As a measure of the scale of the problem, NFU Scotland has to-date logged 380 calls from members reporting issues with fuel. Working with others, it has carried out tests to try to ascertain the cause.
There are now calls for an expert working group to be set up in order to prevent the issue from reoccurring.
Tractor drivers have been carrying spare fuel filters in their cabs for months now so they can be confident of completing day’s work.
Just before the derogation was announced, Brechin-based Carnegie Fuels wrote to its customers offering limited supplies of biodiesel-free tractor fuel at a 2p per litre premium.
NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick said: “It is positive to see Petroineos acting swiftly off the back of the discussions with NFU Scotland and other industry leaders.
“This issue is not a quick fix though and may not completely resolve this problem. We need Government to work with producers and users to find a workable, long-term solution to these issues.”
In England, there have been complaints of problems with biodiesel in East Anglia, the South East and North, but not to the same extent as Scotland.
Samples tested by the NFU show biodiesel content is within the 7 per cent limit, but the nearer to the limit, the greater the issues.
The union is in discussions with fuel companies to help resolve the issue.