31 Jul 2002

Maxol Retailers Sign Pledge in Bid to Curb Illegitimate Trade

MAXOL RETAILERS SIGN PLEDGE IN BID TO CURB ILLEGITIMATE TRADE

In an unprecedented move, Maxol Oil has set up a Quality Assurance Scheme which acts as a guarantee that its fuel is UK Standard approved.

The move, which will enable customers to easily recognise stations which sell legitimate UK duty paid fuel, comes after a report to Parliament, published in February by the National Audit Office identified that over 64% of filling stations in Northern Ireland sell some illegal fuel and as many as 36% sell only illegal fuel to achieve increased profit margins.

Over 50 Maxol licensees and retailers within the Maxol network have signed up for the agreement as a means of curbing illegitimate trade in Northern Ireland and participating sites will display Maxol's Quality Assurance logo prominently on their forecourts.

Brian Donaldson, General Manager, Marketing and Retail of the Maxol Group, said: "This pledge is a further commitment by Maxol's retailers to offer motorists only the finest quality fuel products. Over the past few years the number of cases of damaged vehicle engines as a direct result of illegal fuel has escalated. Our new Quality Assurance Programme will enable motorists to easily identify service stations which sell UK Standard approved petrol and diesel and remove doubt over accidentally purchasing laundered product."
qualityassured_photo.jpgCurrently fraudsters use laundering techniques to remove markers and dye contained in normal rebated fuel to make it difficult for Customs and Excise officers to detect that it is illicit. These chemicals remain in petrol and diesel and have serious implications on vehicle performance as they remove the essential lubricants required by engines to run smoothly and effectively.

As part of the agreement participating Maxol service stations agree to let Maxol personnel lock and secure tanks containing petrol and diesel on their premises, in addition, fuel being sold is regularly tested by Maxol personnel to ensure that the fuel has not been tampered with in any way.

Brian continues: "The Northern Ireland fuel market has declined by 50% in the last five years in terms of petrol and diesel sales and there are two reasons for this, the high duty rates on fuel and the smuggling or laundering of fuel. The number of Maxol branded sites in Northern Ireland has also halved since 1995 and many have been replaced by stations which are operated by those directly involved in laundering, transporting and buying illegal fuel."

"It is hoped that this campaign will help highlight the dangers associated with using laundered product and support those in the legitimate trade who are still trying to earn an honest living in the petrol retail market despite the sophisticated and substantial illegal fuel network operating within Northern Ireland."

"I would appeal to other companies involved in the fuel industry in the Province to set up similar schemes to ensure that the public are able to distinguish between those operating legally and those who purchase and sell illegal fuel to take advantage of increased profits."

Further information on Maxol's Quality Assured Fuel scheme is available at www.maxol.ie/quality_assured/
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