The carbon content of the fuel may vary considerably both among and within primary fuel types:
• For natural gas, the carbon content depends on the composition of the gas which, in its delivered state, is primarily methane, but can include small quantities of ethane, propane, butane, CO2 and heavier hydrocarbons. Natural gas flared at the production site will usually be "wet", i.e., containing far larger amounts of non-methane hydrocarbons. The carbon content will be correspondingly different.
• For crude oil, the carbon content may vary depending on the crude oil's composition (e.g. depending on API gravity and sulphur content). For secondary oil products, the carbon content for light refined products such as gasoline is usually less than for heavier products such as residual fuel oil.
• For coal, the carbon content per tonne varies considerably depending on the coal's composition of carbon, hydrogen, sulphur, ash, oxygen, and nitrogen.
Since the carbon content is closely related to the energy content of the fuel, the variability of the carbon content is small when the activity data are expressed in energy units.
Since carbon content varies by fuel type, data should be used for detailed categories of fuel and product types. The default values for carbon content given in the Introduction chapter of the Energy Volume are suggested only if country-specific values are not available. When selecting a country-specific carbon content for the Reference Approach based on detailed consumption values, good practice suggests that a weighted average be used.
For a given fuel, the country-specific carbon content may vary over time. In this instance, different values may be used in different years.
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