Jobbers World News
May 17, 2010

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  • Shell Response to Questions about Flush Oil
  • Shell's Response is Most Appreciated... But What About the Others?
  • Contact Us With Your News

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    Shell Response to Questions about Flush Oil

    As noted in last weeks issue of JobbersWorld, JobbersWorld continues to field questions from marketers about Shell's sale of flush oil (line wash) into the US market. And the questions are typically the same. The first being, "How does Shell reconcile its recent efforts (Motor Oil Matters) to promote quality lubricants in the market place while it sells flush oil to others who some believe resell this Shell product as engine oil meeting current specs?" The second question often heard is, "How can a Shell marketer compete with the low priced flush oil Shell sells into the market?"

    In an effort to address marketer's questions concerning this issue, JobbersWorld went right to the source. On April 6, 2010, we asked Shell a follow-up question we posed to them in 2009. That question being: "Is Shell still selling line wash to other blenders and to some of its lubricant distributors? Also, if it is sold, I would assume the line wash contains the same markers as Shell's genuine branded product. If that's the case, what do you think the likelihood is that Shell line wash could end up sold directly as Shell branded product or commingled with Shell product, thereby defeating or diluting the intent and/or effectiveness of the markers?"

    Although Shell had not provided a response prior to last weeks issue of JobbersWorld, they have since publication. What follow is Shell's response to each of the questions.

    Regarding Flush Oil

    Flush oil is generated at our blending plants as part of our work to protect the quality and integrity of our Shell branded lubricants. We generate flush oil through many daily activities, such as moving additives or base oils from storage tanks to blending tanks, flushing lines moving product from blending tanks to storage tanks, or storage tanks to bulk trucks, and flushing lines between filling operations. We flush lines to ensure the integrity of our formulations. We have initiatives underway to continually reduce the flush oil output from our facilities. For example, we are making fluid-handling improvements to our largest facility that will result in a 75% reduction of flush oil produced.

    In the meantime, we sell flush oil to be used appropriately by other companies. The amount we sell annually is around 3 to 4 million gallons, significantly less than the amounts suggested in the recent Jobber's World article. Flush oil is virgin product that is suitable for a variety of uses. We consider that selling this product to be repurposed (rather than having it hauled away by a used oil carrier) to be a responsible, sustainable approach to this by-product of our manufacturing and quality assurance processes.

    Flush oil typically contains a mixture of various product streams (PCMO, HDEO, gear oil, industrial oils, ATF, base oils, additives). We clearly communicate to flush oil buyers the possible components of the material and do not make any guarantees regarding the substance's characteristics, because they vary from batch to batch. We also clearly communicate that the flush oils we sell are not to be resold under any Shell or Pennzoil-Quaker State Company trademark. It is our understanding that buyers typically use flush oil as a blend component in a hydraulic fluid, bar and chain oil, process oil or other such product, packaged under a private label. Others use flush oil as low-grade boiler or marine fuel.

    On Motor Oil Matters and Flush Oil

    We had two goals for the Motor Oil Matters initiative. The first is to educate consumers about the benefits of using quality motor oil to help engines perform optimally. API will continue these efforts as it expands Motor Oil Matters into an industry-wide program. The second, which we are continuing to pursue, is to halt unauthorized installers that illegally display and advertise Pennzoil and Quaker State trademarks, yet fail to deliver these branded oils.

    Our approach to the sale of flush oil is consistent with the principles of product quality and integrity that we communicate through Motor Oil Matters. As a competitor in the motor oil marketplace, we object to anyone misrepresenting flush oil as quality, on-spec motor oil. If we were to have convincing evidence that someone was selling this flush oil as a low-cost "motor oil," whether under one of our motor oil brands or simply "from Shell," we would take steps to stop any such sale to the buyer in question.

    Shell's Response is Most Appreciated... But What About the Others?

    What about the rest of the pieces to the puzzle?

    Following the story JobbersWorld ran last week about Shell's flush oil, JobbersWorld received a number of inquires asking about what the the other majors are doing with their flush oil.

    So we publicly ask the other major lubricant manufacturers, what do you do with your flush oil you?

    Contact Us With Your News

    JobbersWorld is all about issues impacting lubricant distributors. You are our primary audience and you are the ones we need to hear from. What's on your mind? What issues would you like to see us tackle? And what news would you like others to know about?

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    Please contact us via e-mail at tom_glenn@jobbersworld.com, or direct at 732-494-0405.

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