Reputation for oil companies – a priceless asset

What is the value of a good reputation in the oil industry?

It means customers can expect to buy fuel of a consistently high quality and, if there is a problem, it’s resolved quickly and effectively.

But a good reputation can easily be damaged and is difficult to repair:

For example, a supply chain problem for a major oil company in China, which involved only 90 tonnes of gasoline:

  • Damaged the engines of 3,000 cars
  • Cost £1.2m for repairs
  • Involved investigations and attracted media scrutiny

Though this incident affected a small region in the country, the impact on the company’s reputation was huge.

Counting the cost of reputation loss

In our connected, digital world news and comment about a fraudulent incident in the fuel supply chain becomes highly visible online and can create a long-lasting association with the company.

This can take years to reverse and, meanwhile, there is a question mark over the company’s product quality and the security of its supply chain. This is made worse if an incident involved organised crime – such as fuel smuggling – or was involved with other criminal activity such as the drug tradeand human trafficking.

And even companies that have invested in reputation protection can be affected: an oil company that stopped its anti-fraud, fuel marking programme to cut costs was left with no system to check and verifysource of fuel. As a resultits fuel supply chain was no longer secure and allowed space for adulteration from cheap and poor quality fuel, which affected both trust in the brand and its sales.

Facing up to fuel fraud

The global impact of counterfeit and fraudulent activity in the petroleum industry – amounting to a $120bn loss – means companies are taking the problem seriously.

Whether working individually or collectively, oil companies recognize how protecting reputation is essential to sustaining business growth.

So what does reputation protection mean in practice?

Fuel marking programmes give oil companies a direct method of detecting fraud or adulteration in the supply chain and allows them to manage and guarantee fuel quality. This gives the consumer greater confidence and therefore leads to increased sales.

A rapid testing method which reveals a potential fraud is then followed up with more in-depth tests in the laboratory so oil companies can be sure the fuel on sale is really theirs, or not. This provides more control and security over what the consumer is buying at the gas station.

However, reputation is also about how oil companies respond when car owners report a fuel quality issue: in that case, the best response is taking full responsibility to repair any damage caused without customers having to go through a lengthy claims process.Markers provide oil companies with a tool to confirm instantly the source of fuel to reduce the customer’s waiting time. It also protects oil companies from fraud claims.

Fuel fraud – an industry challenge

Facing up to fuel fraud and protecting the reputation of petroleum supply is a joint challenge for oil companies, fuel marking experts such as John Hogg and the industry as a whole.

Fuel marking is a way toensure the source of your fuel is legitimate and to protect the quality of your product; it’s how consumers worldwide continue to trust what they put into their car at the fuel pump.

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