Seasonal regulations enforced by the government make a big difference to the fuel available at different times of the year. On September 15 each year, refineries switch from making summer blend gas to the less expensive summer blend, but what is the difference? We are often asked about this as a petroleum service company, so let’s explore some key differences.
During the Summer, fuel is more likely to evaporate from a vehicle’s fuel tank and engine. This results in more pollution in the form of smog and increased emissions. This has led refineries to produce gasoline blends with a lower Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP), also known as volatility. The requirements may vary from state to state and from region to region. Revisions to the regulations were made in December 2020, stating that during the summer period (June 1 to September 15), gasoline sold to consumers needs to meet a maximum RVP of 9.0 psi per gallon. There are some exceptions where lower RVP limits apply. The Beaumont-Port Arthur area of Texas is one of the areas that are subject to the 7.8 psi Federal RVP Limit. This covers Hardin, Jefferson, and Orange Counties. The EPA has also approved several areas in Louisiana for a relaxation of Summer gasoline RVP limits.
As the temperatures drop, different features of gasoline become more critical, so Winter blends are produced. A higher Reid Vapor Pressure is used in Winter to allow easier evaporation, making it easier to ignite when starting a vehicle in low temperatures. Winter blends are not as expensive to produce, and that saving is passed on to consumers at the pumps. Historically, gas prices fall from the end of September through to late April. It increases again in preparation for the switch to Summer blends on May 1. One of the key differences in winter gasoline blends is the higher percentage of butane it contains. In Summer, only 2 percent of butane can be used in fuel as it has a high volatility limit making its use more limited in the Summer months.
A common question we hear as a petroleum service company is whether or not there is a difference in mileage between Summer and Winter gasoline blends. As noted, Summer blend gas prices are a little higher than Winter blend, but this is offset a little because Summer gasoline has more energy resulting in an increase in the miles per gallon.
As a petroleum service company, we have often wondered how much difference the changing of gasoline blends seasonally actually makes. According to a report by the EPA in 2021, the seasonal fuel program allows around 75 million Americas to breathe much cleaner air.
One thing to note is that having summer blend gasoline versus winter-blend gasoline is not a choice. Government regulations dictate it. Refineries must switch blends at the designated times twice a year. Some exceptions are made from time to time, usually due to natural disasters or other crises. For example, On April 29, 2022, the EPA issued an emergency waiver for higher ethanol gasoline blends in Summer both as a way to lower climbing costs and in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Other examples include when a ransomware attack shut down the Colonial Pipeline and during the COVID-19 pandemic to allow more time to transition between the Winter and Summer blends since gasoline was in lesser demand during the stay-at-home mandates.
As a petroleum service company, we can offer much more than just a little knowledge of different seasonal gasoline blends! We are here to help support our customers in maximizing their profits and minimizing downtime. We are sometimes referred to as the first responders of the retail fuel industry! We understand that you are losing profit when your equipment is not working. As your chosen petroleum service company, PumpTex offers a first-time fix pledge that aims to repair your equipment right the first time, on the first visit. We are committed to your success.
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