Jobbers World News
March 20, 2009

  • Quaker State Publicly Challenges Castrol, Valvoline and Mobil 1
  • Shell Says the "Xs" in Sequence IVA Are Bad Science and Misleading
  • "X" Times Better
  • Chemtura Files Voluntary Petitions for Relief Under Chapter 11
  • Contact Us With Your News

  • Quaker State Publicly Challenges Castrol, Valvoline and Mobil 1

    For those who picked up USA Today, you may have noticed that Quaker State ran a full page piece (page 8A) challenging Castrol, Valvoline & Mobil 1. In large type, it says:


    The challenge is followed by a letter from Steve Harman, President, Americas delivered today to the executives responsible for Mobil 1, Valvoline and Castrol. Click link below to read letter.

    Interestingly, when you consider Pennzoil's position in the story that follows regarding "statistically indistinguishable" differences in Sequence IVA wear test, it would appear Quaker State may already know that outcome of its public challenge. That outcome being Valvoline, Castrol, and Mobil 1 can't prove it with "good science."

    At the same time, the Quaker State challenge will likely increase pressure on ExxonMobil to respond to what both Valvoline and Castrol have publicly stated are very significant differences in Sequence IVA performance when comparing their synthetic 5W-30 engine oils with Mobil 1

    Shell Says the "Xs" in Sequence IVA Are Bad Science and Misleading

    First it was Valvoline. In July of 2008, it claimed the company's SynPower motor oil provides 4X better wear protection than Mobil 1 in the Sequence IVA wear test. Then Castrol literally jumped into the game with an advertising campaign rolled out during the SuperBowl saying that Castrol EDGE offers 8X Better Wear Protection Than Mobil 1 in the same test.

    With Valvoline and Castrol making such bold claims, one of the big questions asked is, "How much better its Pennzoil Platinum when compared to Valvoline, Castrol and Mobil 1? To get answers, JobbersWorld decided to put this question directly to Shell. Here is what we found.

    According to Selda Gunsel, Manager, Lubricants Technology Group, Shell Global Solutions (US) Inc., "Although Pennzoil Platinum performs exceedingly well in the Sequence IVA wear test, the battle of the "Xs" comparing oil against oil rather than oil against spec is one we are staying out of." And Gunsel says, the reason they are is because it's "bad science" and could be misleading.

    To understand what Gunsel means starts with an understanding of the Sequence IVA wear test.

    The Sequence IVA is an engine test designed to evaluate the performance of engine oils in preventing camshaft lobe wear in an overhead camshaft engine. It's a 100-hour test of 100 hourly cycles. When completed, each of the 12 cam lobes in the test engine is measured for wear at 7 points. An average is calculated based on the total wear from the 12 cam lobes. In short, test results with a higher number means higher wear.

    For an engine oil to qualify for API SM/ ILSAC GF-4 rating it must pass the Sequence IVA with an average wear of 90 micron maximum.

    Now for the part about "bad science."

    According to Gunsel, "considering that one standard deviation from the mean in the test is 12.5, there is no statistically significant difference for test results within 35 microns of each other."

    Based on data published by Valvoline, whereas Valvoline SynPower showed an average of 20 microns in the Sequence IVA wear test, Mobil 1 5W-30 averaged 180 microns. If Valvoline's data is correct, Gunsel says, "This is certainly a statistically significant difference." Moreover, it speaks to the basic pass/fail threshold of 90 microns or less required to meet SM/GF-4.

    But moving beyond the issue of does it or doesn't it when it comes to Valvoline's claim about Mobil 1's score in the Sequence IVA, Troy Chapman, Marketing Management Team Leader Pennzoil Brands with Shell says the comparisons move to another level when you look at the Sequence IVA tests results for Shell, Valvoline and Castrol in the Sequence IVA. Troy notes, "you are no longer comparing a result of 180 microns with 20 microns. Instead, the comparison is being made between three brands each with less than 20 microns of wear in the test." This moves the comparison into and area where differences are "statistically indistinguishable." (See Graphic that follows)

    Chapman adds, "This is why it would be bad science for Shell to add its bar to a chart, or say X times better when comparing Pennzoil Platinum with Mobil 1, SynPower and Castrol EDGE." Not because their average in the Sequence IVA (which Gunsel says is less than 20 microns) would not comparable very favorably with what Valvoline claims is Mobil 1's average. "Instead," Troy says, "it's because consumers may get the message that the comparison is also between Pennzoil Platinum, SynPower, and Castrol EDGE. And that would be a mistake." First, it would be misleading since there is no statistical difference for test results below 35 in Sequence IVA. Secondly, by spending time with statistically insignificant and misleading comparison, consumers may lose focus on such issues as cleanliness and others where there are true performance differences in engine oils.

    "X" Times Better

    Chemtura Files Voluntary Petitions for Relief Under Chapter 11

    Chemtura Corporation announced it and 26 of its U.S. affiliates (together, the "Company") have filed voluntary petitions for relief under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York (the "Court").

    Chemtura's non-U.S. subsidiaries were not included in the filing and will not be subject to the requirements of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Chemtura's U.S. and worldwide operations are expected to continue without interruption during the restructuring process. See link below for more on the filing.

    For those unfamiliar with Chemtura, the company is engaged in the manufacturing of a wide range of specialty chemicals, including household cleaners, rubber chemicals, urethanes, fumigants, flame retardants, and others. Most relevant to the lubricants industry, however, is Chemtura's business activity in petroleum additives and fluids.

    Lubricant additives produced by Chemtura include calcium sulfonate detergents, corrosion inhibitors, antioxidants, emulsifiers, EP/Anti-wear, friction modifiers, and others.

    In addition to additives, Chemtura is also a significant supplier of grease. And with its acquisition of Kaufman Holding in December of 2006, Chemtura became the largest manufacturer of lubricant grade esters in the world and a manufacturer and marketer of high-performance, synthetic lubricants used in demanding aviation and industrial applications, such as compressors, bearings, gears and food-grade machinery.

    Based on Chemtura's product portfolio and business activity in lubricant additives, esters, and finished lubricants, you can bet Chemtura's announcement will have many thinking hard about both the threats and opportunities it may bring.

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