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Stop fuel fraud: Protect your high-grade fuel

Stop fuel fraud: protect your high-grade fuel

Counterfeit goods are products that are made to look like genuine products but are illegal copies that infringe on the intellectual property rights of the original manufacturer. The value of counterfeit products is derived from these being sold at much lower price than the genuine product. Consumers may believe they are getting a bargain but instead they are receiving inferior products, which are not up to the same safety and environmental standards of the original.

The global value of counterfeit goods is difficult to measure accurately, but estimates suggest that it is a multi-billion-dollar industry worldwide, with Organisation for economic cooperation and development estimating it represents 3.3% of global trade.1

Products most susceptible to counterfeiting are luxury items, such as clothing, handbags, and watches and high-volume consumer goods such as electronics, pharmaceuticals, and automotive parts. Some of these counterfeits can be identified visually whilst some require chemical or physical analysis for identification.

The sale of counterfeit goods has multiple negative consequences for both consumers and manufacturers. The sale of counterfeit goods deprives legitimate manufacturers of revenue and profits and can lead to job losses in affected industries. Governments also lose out on tax revenue that would have been generated by the sale of genuine products. The production and sale of counterfeit goods can contribute to organized crime and terrorism, as counterfeiters may be involved in other illegal activities such as money laundering and drug trafficking.

It is important for manufacturers to take steps to protect their brand by preventing the production and sale of counterfeit goods. Activities to prevent counterfeiting include many on-product technologies such as security holograms, QR codes and RFID tags. Unfortunately, for liquid products such as fuels, these technologies are not practical and to prevent counterfeiting in fuel products, fuel security markers are required.

Counterfeiting of fuel products is also known as fuel fraud and can be easily done as the chemical differences between high-grade (premium) and standard fuel products can be minimal and may require timely and detailed analysis. High-grade fuel is often targeted by counterfeiters because of its value and difficulties in detecting this type of fraud. Currently, when fuel prices are increasing, fuel fraud becomes attractive for counterfeiters. Counterfeit high-grade fuel can be produced by blending standard-grade fuel with additives or other chemicals to mimic the properties of genuine high-grade fuel. Alternatively, the high-grade fuel may be simply diluted with the standard-grade fuel.

Stop fuel fraud: protect your high-grade fuel

Consider the example of a consumer arriving at a fuel station and choosing to use a high-grade fuel, instead of a standard-grade fuel. To the consumer, both fuels look identical and they are buying the high-grade fuel for its long-term benefits- less breakdowns, less repairs, protecting their engine, better fuel efficiency and less emissions. To realise these benefits the customer must use the high-grade fuel over several months. If a significant percentage of that high-grade fuel over that period is counterfeit, then that customer will not observe all the benefits of using that fuel and may just revert to using the standard-grade fuel as they may deem the additional cost to be not worth it. That brand has lost a customer, probably forever, and will never truly know why, as the consumer may not report it.

For these reasons, it is important for manufacturers of high-grade fuels to take proactive steps and use fuel security markers to protect their brand against counterfeiters.

Fuel security markers can be added to high-grade fuel to deter and identify counterfeiting. These markers are unique chemical compounds which are added to the fuel and can be detected using specialized equipment. Tracerco has developed a suite of fuel security markers, which are CHO chemical molecules (only contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms). These are added to high-grade fuels at ppm or ppb levels such that they do not cause any additional environmental effects or alter the properties of the fuel, such as colour, density, viscosity, or performance. These markers can be quantitatively detected in the fuel without the need to add any reactive agent and analysis can be completed in less than a minute using our specialised analytical equipment.

Tracerco have been providing fuel security programmes to governments and major oil companies for over 20 years. We have helped manufacturers to safeguard their brands, protect their reputation, increase and maintain their revenues and secure their high-grade fuel supply chain from the refinery to the pump.

Please contact Tracerco to find out more about our current case studies and what we can offer to protect your brand. To learn more about Tracercoโ€™s tailored fuel security programmes visit: https://www.tracerco.com/services/fuel-marking/


  1. OECD Report: https://www.oecd.org/newsroom/trade-in-fake-goods-is-now-33-of-world-trade-and-rising.htm