Over 30 illegal diesel laundering plants shutdown since 2010

Noonan says 134 petrol stations closed for rule breaches and three million litres of fuel seized

A total of 35 diesel fuel laundering operations have been shut down in the State since 2010 with more than three million litres of fuel seized, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has said.

County Monaghan, with 16, was home to the largest number of diesel laundering operations, followed by 11 in Louth and two in Meath.

One operation was shut down in each of counties Cavan, Donegal, Dublin Laois, Offaly and Waterford.

Mr Noonan, who provided the figures in a written parliamentary reply to a series of questions from Sinn Féin leader and Louth TD Gerry Adams, re-iterated that more than 134 petrol stations had been closed for breaches of licensing conditions and more than three million litres of fuel seized.


Louth had the highest number of closures at 19, followed by Dublin with 12 petrol stations closed for breaches, while 11 businesses were closed down in Meath, eight in Kildare and five in Cork.

Motorists worried about inadvertently buying petrol that has been stretched or diesel that has been laundered, are being encouraged to buy from garages that are part of a voluntary fuel-testing scheme.

The Irish Petrol Retailers Association (IPRA), which represents over 500 independent petrol retailers across the country, is operating the quality assurance scheme. It was introduced last year in Louth and Meath and is being extended on Monday to counties Galway, Mayo and Roscommon.

The Revenue Commissioners and the UK Revenue and Customs service have identified a new product to mark rebated or lower taxed fuels, which have been subject to laundering.

Dow Chemical Company will produce the new marker and it will come into force at the end of March. Mr Noonan said he believed it would provide a "significant boost in the fight against illegal fuel laundering in both jurisdictions".

Mr Noonan also re-iterated his opposition to rebates on lower taxed fuels rather than a system of marking or colouring the fuel to distinguish it from higher tax car diesel.

Lower taxed or marked fuel is used to power home heating systems, trains, fishing vessels and machinery used in areas such as agriculture and construction.

Mr Noonan said the introduction of a rebate system would be administratively burdensome for a wide range of payments, would be expensive to implement and “would itself be at risk from fraud”. He added that rebated fuel could be easily diverted for cars.

Increased regulation and inspection by Revenue and An Garda Síochána has reduced the availability of lower-tax diesel for laundering and the move to petrol stretching, where kerosene is added to petrol to increase the volume of fuel.

The altered petrol has seen some motorists left with significant engine repair bills.