How communication and technology have changed and keep changing never ceases to astound me. In the field of fuel dispensing into vehicles we first heard the term ’payment app’ about five or six years ago. For the past couple of years, forums in which I participate have been trying to resolve the conflict of how to allow payment on the forecourt for fuel from a mobile device, while prohibiting the use of the same device while dispensing petrol. The guidance is now drafted to the effect that the mobile device can be used to make the payment while the customer is inside their vehicle, but it must not be used while they are dispensing.

I had just thought that, apart from a few anomalies, this hurdle had been overcome, when another fuel-related app raised its head. A few years ago, questions had been asked about fuelling vehicles from a van that had been converted for the purpose by the installation of a tank and dispenser on the road, in office car parks, on the driveways of houses etc. Apparently, this was happening in the US, so why couldn’t it happen here? At that time, the enforcers view was that the dispensing of petrol directly from a tanker into vehicles was prohibited, so the proposal seemed to go away. However, we then heard that there was a company offering the service in London but only for diesel. This isn’t prohibited, so it wasn’t investigated.

Over the past year, several companies have approached the enforcers, regulators, suppliers and converters asking for advice on providing an app-based service to deliver petrol from a suitably converted van into the tanks of parked cars.

The app-based service is already up and running for the delivery of diesel. The prohibition that had thought to apply for petrol is dependent on whether the converted vans are deemed within the legislation to be tankers or not.

The consensus of the Petroleum Enforcement Liaison Group is that the risks of fire and explosion that can be controlled on a certified petrol forecourt cannot be adequately controlled at random locations. However, the final verdict sits with the Health and Safety Executive. I will report further as the situation unfolds.