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Esso Synergy - progress strikes ?

Having just topped up my 19S at the local Esso station in North Warnborough, Hants., I noted the placard below relating to Esso Synergy Supreme + Unleaded 97octane.  It has been called this for some time but what has also now appeared is an E5 label on the pump replacing the previous BS7800, shown in the second photo.  This would indicate that the fuel might now contain 5% ethanol which is contrary to earlier claims that Esso Synergy Supreme was to remain ethanol free for the foreseeable future,  other than in the SW.

Esso names


E5 label

The E5 label probably refers to what is about to happen as my own test on the sample purchased showed it still to be ethanol free.


It most probably makes it quicker to re-roll tankers from regular to supreme etc. Some fuels cannot be transported in a tanker that has had ethanol fuel in it unless it has been cleaned, I would imagine regular and supreme are compatible and no cleaning is needed between loads. 


Oh dear, that is not good. The reason for renaming Esso Synergy Supreme unleaded to Supreme + unleaded; is + ethanol, making out it is of benefit?


Those stickers appeared on the pumps at my local station weeks ago. I emailed Esso about them and they replied that they have no intention to put Ethanol in their Synergy Supreme in the areas where it was already ethanol free. Which is a relief. 



I noticed my local Jet stations had new labels with E5 on all petrols including Superunleaded - I have emailed Jet petrol asking about Ethanol addition to their Superunleaded but have yet to receive a reply

In reply to by ashley_cutler




I am now retired, but spent most of my working life in the fuel storage and delivery industry, mainly for BP.

Hopefully I will try to clear up the mist, myths and presumptions around Ethanol and the new labels that we are ALL seeing ! 

The labels; well as I read it, this is in response to a Government directive to have consistent labels on fuel dispensers, that clearly identifies petrol and diesel. Petrol being “E” as it may contain Ethanol and diesel “B” as it can, well actually does, contain Bio fuel. The 5 and 7 is the percentage that the product MAY contain.  The labels appeared overnight, and that’s what changed, not really the fuel that is being dispensed! This incentive for clear and consistent labels may also help to stop the mis fuelling; where people put diesel in petrol vehicles and vice versa. But the public are involved here - so I am not holding out on this aspect! 

Why do some fuels contain Ethanol, and others not? Just as the fuel companies point out, by law, regular unleaded must have 5% Ethanol, the super grades do not have to have it. Why is Scotland, Teeside and the West Country different? Well this is down to the system used to transport the fuels from the refineries to the storage depots (primary transport) and onwards to the end user (secondary transport)  - you!

The refineries in England and Wales use pipelines as primary transport, that is, where pipelines are available. Where there are no pipelines, then rail and/or sea primary is used. The trunk pipelines are multi user, in so much as all fuel grades travel down the same pipes, including Aviation Jet fuel. Because of the properties of water retention in Ethanol it is a requirement that no ethanol products will share a pipe with aviation fuels. (Aviation products are exceptionally well looked after, as the saying goes - there are no lay by’s in the sky!)  So both the unleaded grades traveling by pipeline leave the refinery without any Ethanol, this unwanted and nasty stuff is injected ( In a fully in a controlled environment) at the point of loading the road tanker (secondary transport).

There is no problem when switching road tankers from regular to super unleaded grades, Ethanol or no Ethanol. The residue left in an empty compartment is minute, and causes no problems to the next grade being loaded, typically 7500 litres per compartment. Road tankers swap grades all the time, including from diesel to petrol and vice versa, without any quality issues.

Scotland has no primary pipeline, except for a dedicated pipeline running from Grangemouth refinery to the west coast, (to enable the loading of ships bound for the west coast and N Ireland without the ships traveling miles around the north of Scotland). Aviation products are distributed by dedicated road tankers and rail car - these aviation carriers never carry petrol or diesel products. Likewise the road and rail transport ex Grangemouth that carry petrol and diesel to the garages never carry Aviation, so they can and do carry petrol that is blended with Ethanol, this blending is carried out at the refinery. 

Scotland is a little more complex! The road tankers deliver direct from Grangemouth, down into parts of northern England, Cumbria, Tyne & Wear, Durham etc. So you have to be careful if you think Scotland, in the petrol sense, ends at the border - think again! Grangemouth refinery also have a rail fed distribution terminal near Carlisle. Road tankers from here range over the northern part of England with ethanol containing products. 

Teeside has a storage terminal which is supplied by sea, likewise for the West Country, (also N Ireland). All the petrol products, including super grades, that are bridged in by sea are likely to be blended with Ethanol when they leave the refinery.

At one time Shell were running their super grades directly by road from Stanlow refinery on Merseyside, as far afield as central Scotland. This maintained Ethanol free status for these grades, but I am not sure if Shell still do this.........

So there you have it - if you live in “middle England” you are probably safe with your super grades being Ethanol free. If like me, you live in in the North, SW of England or N Ireland - then “May contain nuts” applies...... 


Very good explanation Eddie from someone who has actually worked in the industry. 

I noticed my local BP Ultimate has had an E5 sticker for some time now but no detriment to my modified Yamaha FJ. This, like my tuned Audi 5 cylinder Turbo are both sensitive to fuel regarding smooth running and fuel economy, albeit not to any alarming degree. BP Ultimate is my preferred fuel for these though both run well on Shell V Power (always more expensive even though their basic unleaded may be cheaper than others at times) Neither like Tesco 99 for some reason.

My Commando with a modified Fullauto head and actual 8.5:1 compression has none of these problems with fuel and has run all year round including euro tours on everything from e5 or e10 regular to Aral 102 premium with no obvious effects on performance or recorded fuel comsumption. I think this is more to do with the mild tune and excellent combustion characteristics of the Fullauto head and Trispark than the fuel but it normally lives on BP Ultimate and the back of the inlet valves as seen through the spark plug hole, remain clean with the backcuts below the seats still shiny after 12,000 miles.


Thank you Eddie for the clear explanation.  I have to take issue with you regarding "no laybys in the Sky".   This infers that we have safe laybys on our roads.  Not so.  The switching to "smart " motorways is a dangerous move , Surely we should now demand fuel as "safe" as Aviation fuel if we are to be denied safe areas to break down??.


Looking at the photo of the fuel pump that Peter McDermott posted it is hard to understand why the price of gasoline is so high in Great Britan....

If I have done my sums correctly the price shown as GBP1.45/liter (assuming in round numbers that there are 4 liters in one gallon) equates to GBP5.80 per gallon which further equates to US$7.42/gallon.

Certainly there are not of oil wells in Great Britain and most if not all of the oil has to be imported but,  this price seems way out of reason to me. Further, the cost of refining the oil into gasoline cannot be much more expensive than it is here in the U.S.  Are the middle eastern exporting countries just gouging the UK?  Or are they just getting back at the UK for all the exploiting that was done in the early 1900s?  

Where is all that extra money going?  Into the pockets of the Sultans that are running the various countries? More roads and thruways being built??  Is it just going into the general fund that is being used to run the country?  Or is just going into the pockets of the politicians?

   I am surprised that the motoring public has not made the UK politicians answer to this........



   We are being taxed to death, to allow the government to spend fortunes on aid and infrastructure, Its about time we had a revolution, which just may happen if Corbin and his Marxist cronies get in. Then we can have party member only shops for the necessities of life. Public services will collapse when the Unions run riot , The dead will not be buried and rubbish will not be collected (it happened with Labour before!) The currency will be devalued by 50% but that will be ok as the unions will get double wages for their members ,those non union folk ,pensioners etc can go without. Whats left of our industry will up sticks and go somewhere else. They will have to re- build  Hadrians wall to  stem the flow of population fleeing the communist state of England.  Lets hope its all a bad dream!!.  Oh No ,I read this morning that big utilities are relocating to Switzerland. Dammit,everything I say always comes true,should have kept quiet!.


Robert, this isn't the place for your worthless and ill thought out political comments.

Try imagining the senseless brawl if we all have our say.?


Until North Sea oil was available, the UK imported all its oil but had huge coal reserves. And WW1 bankrupted the nation. So oil was heavily taxed because it was all imported  and coal was not. Until the 1950s and ever 60s, many pump fuels contained benzoyl...obtained from coal at gasworks. It is the reason why UK bikes and cars have such small engines compared with USA.

In reply to by michael_sullivan



Actually 4.54609 litres/(imperial) gallon, so price is £6.59/gallon. One US gallon is 3.7854 litres.

As others have pointed out, the UK has lots of oil wells in the North Sea (although they are steadily running dry).


So where would all this ethanol come from that would need to be added to fuel? It does not make sense to import it to add to fuel just to comply with EU legislation, which the last time I checked was 'can contain upto'


Good one Ian.

It is the same here in the USA!

It seems that a politician's prime motivation is to get re-elected. All other questions are secondary.



The environmental movement has given governments carte blanche to tax and hound the population 'for our own good'...If they want more money then they just have to think up a 'Green' name for the tax or regulation and suddenly it's O.K.

We're not the first generation to think it, but it must now be so that the Golden Age of motorycling truly lies behind us.


Potholes were highlighted again in the Press, Gov't replied "We are putting £5bn into maintaining road infrastructure over the course of this parliament". So £1bn p/a.

"Taxes on motoring raise around £40 billion a year for the exchequer (around 5% of government revenue), equivalent to about £750 per adult in the UK. Most of this comes from fuel duties, which in 2019–20 are expected to raise £28 billion in their own right plus an additional £5.7 billion from the VAT payable on the duties. Another £6.5 billion comes from vehicle excise duty (VED) and £0.2 billion from the London congestion charge".

Institute of Fiscal Studies

So yes we as motorists are getting a poor deal.Those of you with long enough memories will remember that what is now called VED was once known as the Road Fund Licence.

" A vehicle tax was first introduced in Britain in 1888. In 1920, an excise duty was introduced that was specifically applied to motor vehicles; initially it was hypothecated (ring-fenced or earmarked) for road construction and paid directly into a special Road Fund. After 1937, this reservation of vehicle revenue for roads was ended, and instead the revenue was paid into the Consolidated Fund – the general pot of money held by government. Since then, maintenance of the UK road network has been funded out of general taxation, of which VED is a part.[4] "


Yes, the Road Fund Licence tax was abolished by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer Winston Churchill (voted Greatest Briton in a BBC poll and idolised by the current Prime Minister), replacing it with the Vehicle Excise Duty we have now "lest motorists think they own the road".

Roads are paid for out of general taxation, central government in the case of motorways and trunk roads, local authorities for other roads. So my Council Tax pays for the road outside my house (but I'll let you drive down it). Revenue raised from fuel, VED etc. goes into the general pot and is treated the same as revenue raised from all other taxes to pay for everything from the NHS to Trident submarines and MP's salaries. If you don't like paying tax to run your car or bike then a bicycle or electric vehicle are options available to you.

And most NOC members' bikes are tax exempt anyway. So, in many ways, we motorists are getting a rather good deal.


Stan, how long do you think this good deal will last for? Not only do EV's pay no tax, they are also subsidised by the tax payer. I use the Green term 'sustainable' in order to say this can't go on and any number of things can happen between now and 2026, when the current International economic model comes to an end, so make the most of it.

The introduction of E10 I'm sure is a part of the plan to encourage greater EV use, though where the electricity is coming from on a still clear night I dare not ask. (Diesel generators in Glasgow recently) Even the establishment cult owned press are running articles on poor E10 economy and even engine issues.

You could say NO to E10, just as you can say NO to the pcr and the whole house of cards collapses. As they say in Yorkshire...There's nowt so daft as folk....(Not you Stan) 



Just as an aside, regarding cross-country fuel delivery; I live in Southampton, just within sight of the Fawley refinery.  Many years ago in my career as a freelance civil engineer, I was involved in a few construction projects in and around the "Oil Farm" in Hamble Lane.  It is a collection of fuel storage tanks from which road tankers are filled and it is across Southampton Water from Fawley refinery.

Working on the site meant a strictly spark-free policy so there was No Smoking and no naked flames - for obvious reasons.  Petrol pipelines crossed under Southampton Water to the depot and the ground around the electrical pump house near the shore absolutely reeked of petrol!  

Other pipelines from Fawley carry aviation fuel direct to Gatwick and Heathrow airports, so work anywhere near their routes is closely monitored by helicopters flying the routes daily and calling in on any work they see. The pipelines I saw were only about 8" in diameter and were carrying the fuel around 100 miles, so are at very high pressure - a bit like the inter-city gas mains that I have also encountered.  Work on the M27 Motorway, where the fuel pipes cross, was strictly controlled.  They are usually marked by reflective "tophat" V-shaped caps.

There are a lot of pipelines still in service that were linked to the second world war PLUTO (pipeline under the ocean) system that supplied all the fuel from England to the Normandy invasion forces.  If interested I suggest you look it up on t lectric interweb.


In reply to by neil_wyatt


Submitted by Neil Wyatt on Sat, 13/11/2021

Stan, how long do you think this good deal will last for?


The "good deal" to which I was referring is the £0 VED on historic vehicles. How long, well tory party favourite Tony Bamford - his wife supplies food hampers to Mr Johnson and partner - has a large collection of classic cars, so no doubt he's lobbying hard for E0 petrol and historic vehicles. But with more and more decent old vehicles coming up to 40 years old, cars and bikes that could reasonably be used as a daily drive, maybe someone in the Treasury will start taking an interest.

As for electrics being at £0 VED, that, like the £30 VED for a 2.0 TDI VW Passat Estate, is not going to last. Bicycles: can't see them being included in VED or its replacement.

There are a lot of questions about the benefits of E10. Yes, the hydrocarbon content is lower but that's negated to some degree by 3% greater fuel consumption. It's possible that E10 reduces NOx emissions a little. But set against any benefit is the land given over to growing the plants, transport and processing.

It's all rather a mess and much of what is done or planned is simply to "be seen to be doing something". So called "smart" electricity meters being a classic example - until they make one that, Dad's Army style, can shout 'turn that light out' it's just pointless hype.

So let's enjoy what we have while it lasts and accept that having an internal combustion engined vehicle will become like owning a horse is today.

I agree with what you wrote, stan.

It's all about doing something about a problem we don't have, to pacify the Green global masters and their agenda.

Where does this lead us? Net zero, a stepping stone towards eventually taking all CO2 out of our atmosphere. No CO2 = no oxygen. It's finely balanced as it is.

At least our Norton's are helping to keep life on Earth going......E0: use it or lose it........


Moto GP are moving to use fully synthetic fuels with no fossil addition by 2027 so we had best use our injunity to work out how to keep our old conkers running on that stuff. To me it sounds a better life line than batteries or hydrogen.


Peter, I believe what were humans will become by majority, synthetic around two years before such fuels come into play. Bill Gates (The Gates of Hell) is already investing in synthetic meat.

I mentioned taking CO2 out of the atmosphere above. Same man.........

Did you know that the second most abundant liquid on Earth is oil. Plenty to go round as mineral.

Image result for bill gates with syringe


There are at least 3 inland oil producing sites in the south of England. One each in Dorset (Wych Farm), Hampshire (Horndean) and Sussex (Weald). I don't believe that the last one is active yet.  The Isle of Wight has a significant oil field beneath it but the Council won't allow this to be mined.

The link-up, in the early 70s, of the north and south ends of the North Sea Gas pipe was in a field just outside of Andover.

Due to the need for special Ethanol free tankers, Esso sometimes use a third party to deliver the Supreme version to petrol stations and .......not only just to Esso branded pumps.

Apparently there are still a number of active coal mines in the UK.  Possibly up to 4.


Thanks for this, Phil.

It would appear that some 'normal' economic activity is going on, on the quiet.

The ending (For now) of fracking and the cancellation of a new mine in Cumbria to produce coking coal to make steel, without importing this coke on the other hand are well known to keep the Green and build back better element quiet.

But I'm encouraged to know that other fuel might also be E0.  I think of BP Ultimate  that was, but for a long time will not admit to E0. They just say it's an evolving situation.

I think another alleged panic might help to get rid of huge stocks of E10 that is not so popular?       I wonder why?      



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