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Petrol storage and distribution

EU measures to reduce the environmental and health impacts of petrol


Petrol is a complex mixture of volatile organic compounds (VOC) which readily evaporate contributing to several environmental problems. These include excessive levels of toxic benzene in ambient air and photochemical formation of ozone; ground-level ozone is an air pollutant causing respiratory illnesses and a greenhouse gas contributing to global warming.

To address these issues, the EU has adopted legislative measures in the form of two Directives, the so-called petrol vapour recovery Directives.


Directive 1994/63/EC (Stage I Petrol Vapour Recovery) aims at:

  • preventing VOC emissions during petrol storage and distribution
  • introducing new ways for terminals to reduce evaporative losses from storage tanks, such as floating roofs and reflective coatings
  • ensuring the recovery of vapours and their return to the tanker or terminal once petrol is loaded and transported to service stations.

Directive 2009/126/EC (Stage II Petrol Vapour Recovery) aims at:

  • preventing the emission of petrol vapour to the air by recovering it at the vehicle refuelling stage



Directive 1994/63/EC on the control of VOC emissions resulting from the storage of petrol and its distribution from terminals to service stations

Directive 2009/126/EC on Stage II petrol vapour recovery during refuelling of motor vehicles at service stations. It was subsequently adapted to technological progress by Commission Directive 2014/99/EU with regard to the use of Standard EN 16321-2:2013 to measure petrol vapour capture efficiency.

The Industrial Emission Directive has also made provisions for activities involved in petrol storage and distribution.


A 2017 Commission evaluation concluded that the implementation of both Directives has had a positive impact on VOC emission reduction, owed to the activities they cover and on actions such as the fitting of Stage II vapour recovery equipment.

That same year, the Commission published a report on the implementation of Directive 2009/126/EC.


For questions about EU environmental policy, please contact Europe Direct.