Fuel Authentication Case Study: Ghana

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Authentix uses its advanced and innovative fuel authentication solution to help the nation of Ghana combat adulteration of its petroleum products and recover lost revenue.

THE CHALLENGE

With a population of almost 28 million, Ghana is one of the fastest growing nations in Africa. It has moderate fuel taxes compared to its neighbors and limited fuel subsidies. The government of Ghana discovered that the adulteration of petroleum products offered for sale at retail outlets was degrading the quality of the available supply, while depriving the nation of significant tax revenue. In fact, baseline testing demonstrated that 32% of fuel stations had at least one tank showing dilution. Government officials estimated that the tax losses incurred because of this adulteration was more than USD 10 M annually. Ghana was in urgent need of a solution to combat adulteration of its petroleum products and recover fiscal tax revenue that was sorely needed for economic development.

THE SOLUTION

Since 2013, Authentix has been providing the Ghana National Petroleum Authority (NPA) with a fuel authentication solution. The program’s objectives are reducing deterioration in the quality of petroleum products due to dilution and adulteration whilst ensuring the appropriate recovery of fiscal tax revenues from the sale of petroleum and diesel for passenger vehicles.

Full-taxed domestic fuels are marked with a field quantitative marker for screening and dilution detection, and a forensic marker for lab confirmation. Subsidized products are marked to detect adulteration in domestic fuel. The Authentix solution is comprised the following core components:

MARKERS & DEVICES

Authentix LSX field analyzer detects dilution of taxed road fuels at fuel stations. Authentix MSX analyzer provides quantitative, forensic results in a laboratory environment. MSX analyzers are also used to measure the concentration of the MSX fuel marker that is added to fuel at the depot with the LSX marker. MSX analyzers were placed in regional labs in the largest cities in five regions of Ghana.

SERVICES & SUPPORT

  • Marking operations (marker storage & reconciliation, logistics, hand-marking trucks, warehouse management, etc.)
  • Field testing/sampling implementation, training, auditing and maintenance
  • Laboratory implementation and maintenance
  • Program management and reporting

THE OUTCOME

With the adoption of the Authentix fuel authentication program in Ghana, there has been a marked improvement in the quality of the fuel supply of the country. Additional benefits include:

    • A 78% reduction in adulteration of sampled products
    • An increase of excise tax collection estimated to be almost USD 9 M annually
    • Improved environmental and public health benefits: In most cases, the adulterant used to dilute either gasoline or diesel affects the quality of the product resulting in vehicle engine failures and harmful environmental emissions
    • The program was originally planned to mark two billion liters. Today, over three billion liters of fuel is marked, with continued
      reduction in contraband and the preservation of authentic, marked fuel on the market.

    The program designed and implemented by Authentix has established an international reputation as a best-in-class fuel authentication program because of its continuous improvement over time, consistent increases in recovered volumes and taxes of excisable and subsidized fuels, and the reduction in the number of samples and retail outlets showing signs of dilution or adulteration.

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    Fuel Authentication Case Study: Serbia

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    Authentix deploys a fuel authentication program to help Serbia recover millions in lost excise taxes

    • Government fuel excise revenues for 2014 were almost USD 161M higher than in 2013
    • Fuel excise tax collections increased by more than USD 23M in just one year

    Challenge

    The Republic of Serbia, a country of over seven million people, is located at the crossroads of central and southern Europe and is a transit point for many important commodities traveling from Europe to a wide variety of destinations. In 2009, Serbia’s economy was struggling and a decrease in fuel excise taxes was exacerbating the problem. Serbia’s government noticed that, while the number of fuel stations and the number of vehicle registrations were both increasing, the taxable sale of fuels used in cars was, at the same time, declining. This alerted officials that fuel fraud, intended to facilitate evasion of excise taxes, was an issue that needed to be addressed.

    By 2013, 1,434,000 tons of diesel had been consumed in Serbia, while only 902,000 tons had been sold by oil companies through wholesale channels. This left a staggering 37 percent of volume unaccounted for— equating to a tax value of about USD 246,749,850.

    The government of Serbia determined that this disparity could be explained by the practice of two illicit trade patterns:

    • Direct revenue losses: In this case, fuel to be transported is purposely under-measured by manipulation of measurement equipment and falsification of transport documentation. The unaccounted-for fuel is then diverted to the black market.
    • Indirect revenue losses caused by fuel being adulterated and sold at lower costs. This practice was harmful beyond the excise tax losses, as the introduction of adulterants degraded fuel quality—resulting in lower fuel efficiency, harm to the environment, and damage to vehicles and equipment

    Solution

    PILOT PROGRAM

    Prior to the Serbian government  implementation of a national fuel authentication solution, a pilot program was initiated to test the suitability of the fuel marker provided by Authentix. The pilot program proved that the marker did not have any adverse effect on fuel properties, homogenized well with the fuel, and the detection technology was easy to use. Most importantly, it demonstrated that the marker made it possible to detect unmarked (i.e., illegal) fuel, and the marked fuel was effectively quantified in the field.

    PROGRAM ROLLOUT

    As the actual program rolled out, regular sampling and testing begun. This included both field testing at petrol stations, internal stations, depots, and refineries, to indicate the presence of illicit fuel; and laboratory testing to confirm the field results.

    MARKERS & DEVICES

    The Authentix marker chosen for the program is constructed of the same molecular components as the fuel—making it virtually impossible to separate from the fuel once it has been marked and enabling a level of testing that supports successful criminal prosecution. The marking of both petrol and diesel is done manually at the bulk tank level at eight locations, at the auto truck level at four locations, and at the rail truck level at four locations.

    The marking of LPG is done manually at 15 locations. Rapid fuel testing at retail outlets and other bulk storage locations uses Authentix’s LSX and LPX technology, which allows inspectors to quickly screen all retail fuel stations and immediately determine whether the retail fuel has been diluted.

    Government officials may then choose to act based on the results from Authentix LSX 2000 and LPX1000 devices (specifically in cases of repeated failed tests over a period), and/or send samples for laboratory testing with our MSX1000 and HPLC devices.

    Outcome

    In just the first five months of the fuel authentication program, more than 930 million liters of fuel were marked, and the Serbian government began to see significant evidence that the program was working— even before enforcement started. Sales volume increased 18% for diesel, 14% for gasoline. And excise revenues increased by over USD 39M when compared to the same period the year before.

    • Fuel excise tax collections in February-March 2014 increased by more than USD 23M over the same period in 2013
    • It was reported on national television that government fuel excise revenues for 2014 were almost USD 161M higher than the year before
    • The number of failed samples at retail outlets has decreased steadily and is now 75% lower than at the start of the fuel marking program.
    • Volumes of marked fuel have increased by about seven percent, resulting in significantly increased inflows from paid excises to Serbian government coffer
    • From 2013 to 2018, the inflow of funds from the collection of excise taxes on petrol and diesel into the Serbian budget increased by about USD 232M
    • From 2013 to 2016, consumption of diesel fuels increased by 30%

    Download Case Study PDF Here

    Fuel Authentication Case Study: Middle East

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    Authentix uses its fuel authentication solution to uncover pervasive product smuggling and reduce smuggling losses by 80%.

    THE CHALLENGE

    The sole provider of petroleum products in its country, this Middle Eastern national oil company, one of the largest in the world, also manages the distribution of these products to major and remote bulk plants via pipeline networks, trucks, and marine shipments.

    Through their internal monitoring process, the company suspected that some domestic use subsidized products transported to and from the company’s refineries and bulk storage plants by third-party-operated trucks were being diverted and sold to unauthorized entities to be used as feedstock or was being smuggled. In addition, it was alleged that:

    • Product was being tampered or mixed with other products to alter and degrade specification for exporting purposes at higher profit margins
    • Product that was sold to customers for their own use was being diverted and resold to unauthorized dealers
    • Different products were illegally blended (low price low quality fuel/products) and sold for higher product prices
    • Products were being stolen during delivery process in the supply-chain
    • The average yearly revenue losses to smuggling and product diversion was in the hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars.

    THE SOLUTION

    Since 2014, Authentix has been providing an advanced fuel authentication program to the national oil company. The program marks subsidized diesel fuel at multiple locations, in order to detect the smuggling and product diversion as industrial feedstock of the refined product, or its distilled extracts smuggled out of the country through border crossings. The major components of the program consisted of the following:

    MARKERS & DEVICES
    The amount of fuel to be marked requires large-volume production of the markers. This was readily achieved early into the program and the marker concentrate is now securely blended in country. The fuel marker is added to the diesel fuel at seven locations (refineries and a bulk tank farm). Auto-injectors are used to simplify the process.

    Authentix MSX 2000 analyzer utilizes gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), which Authentix considers to be the ideal analytical technique for the unambiguous identification and quantification of markers in unknown petroleum samples. All diesel samples are analyzed directly via GC-MS. Four large independent labs are equipped by Authentix to conduct tests. Fuel specification testing is conducted using proprietary Authentix methods and established ASTM methodology are used.

    SUPPORT & SERVICES
    Fully-integrated lab testing system with over 15 MSX 2000 analyzers, a laboratory information management system (LIMS) to manage the lab workflow and web based management reporting dashboards were built and installed providing near real-time reports. Samples are taken at all borders, ports and suspected industrial sites and sent for testing and analysis at the 4- independent labs. Additionally, quality control tests are conducted on marked diesel at all marking sites to maintain correct marker dosing rates.

    THE OUTCOME

    Once deployed in the field, the Authentix solution proved to be highly effective in detecting and measuring marked diesel. The authentication program revealed the losses to be far greater than originally conceived. Through limited enforcement efforts and ongoing monitoring, the oil company was able to significantly curb smuggling at the country’s border, with the estimated savings of over $1 million per day. This represents a program return on investment of over 10X. Additional positive results include:

    • A substantial reduction in smuggling in the border area, due to 14 smuggling-implicated plants being closed by the nation’s government
    • Several hundred million U.S. dollars in subsidies are saved every year
    • A reduction in diesel demand with the reduction in smuggling and product diversion
    • Revocation of the export permits of the companies involved in illicit activity

    The sampling component of the program has also demonstrated great success. Over the course of the program, the number of samples that fail testing has decreased, as well as the volume of suspect samples. In fact, at this point, less than five percent of samples fail. The losses, measured in U.S. dollars, are now less than 20 percent of what they were before the fuel marking program was originally put in place. Based on the demonstrated success of the Authentix fuel authentication program, the oil company extended the program beyond the initial contract period and it is now a nationwide program which is extended every year due to the benefits realized.

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    Fuel Authentication Case Study: West Africa

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    Authentix solution uses authentication technology and transfer of knowledge to build a reliable, best-in-class program for a developing country.

    THE CHALLENGE

    A West African country was experiencing a significant deterioration in the quality of its petroleum products due to adulteration. Consumer confidence in the fuel supply was rapidly diminishing as adulterated fuel damaged vehicle engines resulting in a flood of consumer complaints. In most cases, the adulterant used to dilute the fuel can result in the release of harmful emissions to the detriment of the environment and public health. Before the implementation of a fuel authentication program, the recorded level of fuel adulteration was 32%. Illicit trade also impacted the appropriate recovery of fiscal tax revenues and government subsidies from the sale of petroleum and diesel for passenger vehicles. A country’s excise tax on petroleum products is diminished when fuels are diluted with products subject to a lower tax rate. National subsidies are negatively impacted when subsidized fuels are smuggled to countries where prices are higher.

    In 2012, in response to this crisis, a government agency was created to ensure the efficiency and profitability of the local petroleum industry, ultimately working to safeguard the quality of petroleum products placed on the local market. The agency’s goal was to halt the adulteration of petroleum products and ensure that subsidized products were reaching the intended consumers. An official fuel authentication scheme was enacted by the government agency to achieve these goals. The scheme was introduced in 2013 and awarded to Authentix as prime contractor, a leading global authentication program and information services company.

    THE SOLUTION

    Authentix works with governments to ensure authentic products are sold in-country to benefit law abiding citizens – not criminals. Fuel marking solutions enable governments to collect more excise taxes without raising taxes for the benefit of citizens and legitimate industries. By delivering technology and partnership strategies, the Authentix fuel authentication program is financed and operated by Authentix with a program of knowledge and skill transfer so governments can independently operate their own fuel authentication initiatives. The Authentix end-to-end solution uses chemical markers built to withstand adulteration and illicit filtering methods, the AXIS Information System, an integrated set of software applications, and in-house services and support (advisory, design, implementation and operational) to customize security solutions for its customers. Authentix, as prime contractor, designed, financed, built, and managed the operations together with the customer of the entire program before transferring it to a local partner after several years.

    As this program was the first in the country, Authentix designed the program based on the national mid and downstream fuel distribution networks and implemented the infrastructure and operations to maximize the efficiency and minimize interference with the local operators. Initially, fuel marking was rolled out to ten fuel depots. The program was expanded to all 13 national depots with additional sites coming online as they become operational. Authentix trained the government customer for field testing which was initially conducted to set the baseline for fuel adulteration occurring and subsequent subsidy and revenue recovery calculations.

    Markers and Devices – A machine-readable marker was added to the fuel supply at test retail stations (and later to the national supply at fuel depots) where unannounced checks could be conducted. A layered testing approach used the LSX 2000 field portable analyzer to screen samples. Failures were retested and, if failed a second time, were sent to a local lab for forensic testing. This layered solution provides scalability at a low total cost with enforceable results for legal prosecution.

    AXIS Information System – Expansion of the program required more efficient ways to operate the program daily. Authentix deployed the Marking Operations Management System (MOMS)  module of the AXIS Information System when it was determined that manual completion of truck marking orders and certificates wouldn’t meet the needs of fuel depot personnel. The digital database eliminates the need to manually input data from forms, a tedious process subject to error. Legible printed orders and certificates resulted in a higher professional standard of  documentation. Data from the depots is compiled and sent to the government agency for analysis and official record keeping.

    Services and Support – Under the guidance of the government agency, the fuel authentication program has followed a process of continual improvement and stakeholder engagement, including changing elements of the program, adapting to the actual conditions of the fuel supply chain and the agency’s desire for a greater role in daily operations. Authentix supported this process
    by providing training and guidance to transition to government agency-led management and implementing significant improvements to the analyzers, chemometric testing methods and depot operations.

    THE OUTCOME

    The Authentix fuel authentication program successfully identified product adulteration, earning back consumer confidence, recouping lost tax revenue and creating a significant number of highly skilled jobs for local people. The increase in tax revenue assisted government investment in critical infrastructure projects including roads, health posts, and schools. Over time, the Authentix build-operate-transfer fuel authentication model moved the operational workload of the program to the government agency. This approach supported the agency’s goal of independently operating its own fuel authentication program. Authentix as prime contractor delivered the following measurable successes from 2013 to 2017 have included:

    • A steady decrease in adulterated samples from 15-19% in 2013 leveling off to 3-5% in 2017.
    • A year-over-year reduction (196 million liters in 2013 to 95 million liters in 2017) of legitimate taxed product forcing out non-taxed product from the supply chain.
    • An increase in consumer confidence as evidenced by a reduction in consumer complaints in an annual customer satisfaction survey.
    • Generation of more than USD 200 M in additional excise revenue retention and subsidy recovery.
    • A 50% increase in the number of retail outlets tested and year-on-year increases in testing frequency. This in combination with actively sanctioning those found with adulterated fuels, has resulted in a strong deterrent effect.
    • Increase in the programs reach by deploying higher numbers of analyzers in the field and labs. This has driven the creation of local maintenance and auditor jobs.

    Download Case Study PDF Here

    Major US Fuel Marketer Protects its Brand Promise and Revenue Stream

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    Fuel authentication solution by Authentix used to combat commingling achieves a seven percent decrease in failure rate for a major US fuel marketer. 

    THE CHALLENGE

    In the early 2000s, our customer, a major Fortune 20 fuel marketer, acquired the retail operations of another large fuel marketer. This purchase increased our customer’s retail operations footprint substantially. The acquisition added new complexities to the fuel marketer’s supply chain, including:

    • Adding over 10,000 stations to the retail network
    • Consolidating two branded additives to one third-party additive package
    • Using more than 100 unmonitored, third-party fuel terminals
    • Continued divestiture of company-owned stations to franchise ownership

    THE NEED

    Consequently, the company became concerned about the integrity of their combined gasoline supply chain, the possibility of commingling, and of fuel terminals running out of gasoline.

    The fuel marketer required that any fuel marker selected to combat commingling meet all U.S. E.P.A. standards, as well as more rigorous California E.P.A. Air Resource Board (CARB) standards. This required a marker chemistry that would not harm the environment or cause adverse health effects through combustion and evaporative emissions.

    Able to meet all requirements, Authentix has been the fuel authentication solutions partner since 2002 for this company, which today involves nearly 15,000 branded sites in the United States.

    THE SOLUTION

    The Authentix fuel authentication solution developed for this large fuel marketer is an advanced solution that includes a fuel marking system consisting of physical markers added to fuel; information systems including proprietary software, data collection, and reporting; and services including:

    • Lab testing and sample analysis
    • Program management and sampling oversight
    • Results analysis and reporting
    • Sample collection in the field

    The Authentix solution uses a mass differentiated molecular marker with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) analyzers, considered to be the gold standard for forensic analysis. At the additive facility, the marker is added to the customer’s additive package. It is then shipped to over 100 terminal facilities across the country, where it is injected into the base fuel according to prescribed treat rates.

    Samples from approximately 400 retail stations are delivered to the Authentix Analytical Laboratory for analysis. Using three Agilent GC-MS analyzers, a sample analysis is conducted for the customer’s fuel and additive.

    THE OUTCOME

    Since developing and implementing the fuel authentication program in 2002, Authentix has marked more than 200 billion gallons of gasoline to all 50 states with outstanding results:

    • Decrease of seven percent in failure rate directly attributed to a reduction in the commingling of non-branded gasoline with branded product
    • Greater integrity within the complex fuel supply chain
    • Increase in consumer brand confidence and competitive advantage across the U.S.

    Download Case Study PDF Here

  • Pharmaceutical Case Study

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    Counterfeiters threaten $1 billion pipeline of medicine.

    You are your company’s brand protection manager. Counterfeit copies of one of your major pharmaceutical brands turn up in the U.S. market. You have no security measures in place to allow patients or inspectors to tell the real stuff from the fake. Consequently, $1 billion worth of your product, already in the distribution pipeline, can’t be sold—at least not until you come up with some method of allowing patients and retailers to verify that your medicine is actually authentic.

    Patient safety, your company’s hard-earned reputation not to mention $1 billion in sales are all under severe threat. Time to send out a SOS.

    This is exactly the situation one of our customers found themselves in. And when they came to us for help, Authentix answered the call. Our customer desperately needed a way to instantly authenticate medicines in the field. No problem, we said.

    We immediately jumped into action. The customer’s product was repackaged to include a variety of authentication features that could be identified by patients and inspectors, both in the field and in the laboratory. These included:

    • Overt, color-shifting inks can be readily distinguished by patients.
    • Covert, machine-readable inks can be detected in the field by inspection staff with appropriate readers.
    • Forensic markers can only be detected under laboratory analysis.
    A happy ending

    The Authentix solution to our customer’s counterfeiting problem provided a secure means of instantly identifying authentic from counterfeit medicines. The benefits were immediate and significant:

    • $1 billion worth of product frozen within the supply chain was released for sale
    • The expense of a full product recall was averted
    • The customer was able to mitigate the risk of potential lawsuits
    • And, our customer’s brand protection manager instantly became the organization’s authentication “superhero.”

    Most importantly, confidence in the brand was restored among physicians, pharmacists and patients.

    Every superhero needs a partner.

    What would Batman be without Robin? The Green Hornet without Kato? Not much, if you ask us. If you want to be your company’s authentication superhero, contact us today. In true superhero style, Authentix is the partner with the innovative solution to boost your authentication powers!

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    Case Study: Fast-Moving Consumer Goods

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    Brand protection solution to eliminate the diversion of products from legitimate distribution channels

    The Challenge

    A large, global hair care manufacturer produces category-leading brands with high consumer loyalty and demand. Their products are marketed through exclusive, professional beauty care channels via a complex supply chain with diverse manufacturing systems and multiple distribution outlets.

    All of these elements make their products high-value targets for counterfeiters, organized theft rings, and gray market wholesalers. In fact, the manufacturer found they were being negatively impacted by diversion of its products from legitimate distribution channels into gray or retail markets. This situation was creating dissatisfied customers and weakening their market promotional efforts.

    The Need

    Clearly, the manufacturer needed an anti-diversion authentication solution that would help them maintain brand equity. It was imperative that the solution include the ability to authenticate product and verify its “product genealogy” throughout its life cycle. They also needed the ability to track product throughout their entire supply chain and make sure the right product was always delivered to the right location.

    The Solution

    The global hair care manufacturer turned to Authentix to implement an authentication solution of serialization and a track-and-trace system that identified product diversion in the brand’s distribution channels. The Authentix solution utilized multiple covert authentication features that allow item-level serialization, full product trace-ability from manufacturing to retail, as well as provisions to track repackaged products. In addition, the track-and-trace system was seamlessly integrated into manufacturing process controls for all of the manufacturer’s 13 production lines.

    Itemized serialization was accomplished for over 165 million products, enabling full trace-ability from manufacturing to retail.

    The Outcome

        • Successfully identified channel leaks within a complex distribution chain of over 2,500 channel partners and 15 distributors
        • Over 300 million units have been marked since the Authentix solution was implemented
        • 47 percent reduction in product diversion
        • Consequently, product sales increased by $77 million

    Contact us if your company is struggling with lost revenue due to illicit activity throughout your supply chain.

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    Agrochemical Case Study

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    Violation of Licensing Agreement Revealed with In-Product Brand Protection Program

    The Issue

    An agricultural chemical manufacturer suspected that one of its formulators was in violation of a licensing agreement, substituting a generic active ingredient for the licensed component. The formulator also appeared to be diverting the end-product for sale in a region outside of its licensed territory where it had a higher value.

    The Solution

    The manufacturer turned to Authentix for a solution to ensure the use of their component in the formulator’s end-product. Authentix worked with the manufacturer to incorporate US FDA-compliant in-product markers into the licensed component, ensuring that the markers could endure the harsh synthesis process, become homogenous and remain stable, while not impacting the active ingredient. By adding markers to all of the licensed component, a test of the suspect formulator’s end-product that showed low concentration or no marker presence would indicate that the formulator was replacing the licensed active ingredient with a generic product.

    The markers are detectable in the field using a simple qualitative (yes / no) test kit, backed up with a quantitative laboratory test. The layered marker program allows wide-spread and quick field screening, with suspect samples sent to a centralized laboratory for validation and to provide support for corrective action. The manufacturer’s personnel were trained to use the test kits and perform the laboratory analysis, allowing them to monitor the formulator’s end-product for compliance with the licensing agreement.

    The Outcome

    The agricultural chemical manufacturer determined conclusively that the formulator was in violation of its licensing agreement by testing for and not finding the Authentix markers in the end-product. Field tests were confirmed by precise laboratory testing, delivering proof that enabled enforcement action to be taken.

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    Case Study: Wine & Spirits

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    Addressing Counterfeiting and Adulteration Increases Sales by 25%

     

    The Issue

    Authentix implemented a program in South America to help address a spirits counterfeiting issue. With annual production of over 60 million bottles of various spirits (approx. 50 million liters), this market provided the largest single source of state government revenue—over $150M in previous years.

     

    The Solution

    To solve the issue, the program used a combination of in-product, on-package marking and distribution channel monitoring. For authentication purposes on packaging, an overt feature was added as tamper evidence for consumers and a covert feature was added for official retail inspectors via handheld field verification readers and test kits. In addition, covert features were incorporated into the spirit itself for field verification and forensic lab verification.

     

    The Outcome

      • Within the first year of the program, 75
        million liters of spirits had been protected (approx. 100 million bottles).
      • More than 1300 inspectors in 28 states had inspected over 300 retail outlets.
      • Of these, 10% were found to contain counterfeits and 5 retail outlets were investigated resulting in arrests.
      • The brand owner experienced a 25% increase in sales over the same time period.

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    Case Study: Coral Gas Combats Illicit LPG Dilution

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    Authentix developed a fuel marking system that is the first of its kind to be adopted by an EU-member state.

    Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is a Greek success story. In recent years, Greek consumers have increasingly switched to LPG, using it both as an automotive fuel and a heating fuel, due to its lower price compared to gasoline or oil. In fact, official Greek sales of LPG reached 215,000 metric tons last year, up from just 4,200 tons in 2009.

    Coral Gas has played a major part in that success. Formerly known as Shell Gas S.A., Coral Gas S.A. operates as a subsidiary of Motor Oil Hellas Corinth Refineries SA. Through its four plants in Athens, Thessaloniki, Ioannina and Crete, Coral Gas has helped make LPG a big part of everyday life in Greece.

    The Attack

    With success came a significant problem. Coral Gas was experiencing product quality problems due to dilution. It appeared that LPG that did not originate from the fuel retailer’s depots was being diluted and sold through its network of retail stations. This illicit activity had a negative effect on the Coral Gas brand, as consumers were no longer able to depend on the integrity of the LPG fuel they were purchasing. Manipulated fuel like this can lead to premature engine wear and tear, leading to costly repairs. Of course, it also leads to erosion of consumer trust in the brand creating significant revenue loss.

    Defense

    To defeat the LPG dilution problem, Coral Gas has introduced a powerful new weapon—a molecular marker, that is added to its automotive LPG products. This advanced authentication solution was developed by Authentix, the sole global provider of quantitative LPG marking technology.

    To deter illicit fuel manipulation and protect Coral Gas’ brand integrity, Authentix’s team of subject matter experts in technology, program design and fuel authentication program management, collaborated with Coral Gas to support their business goals. Authentix developed a proactive, innovative solution that utilizes chemical markers built to withstand adulteration and illicit filtering methods. Authentix also provides in-house services and support (advisory, design, implementation and operations).

    In the advisory phase, vulnerabilities in Coral Gas’s supply chain were identified. Using this information, the Authentix team provided a design template using its covert markers and analyzers to customize the program to Coral Gas’ needs.

    The Pilot Program

    Launched at one retail location in 2017, the pilot phase included the addition of a proprietary Authentix covert marker to Coral Gas’ automotive LPG. Using patented technology validated in both the field and laboratory, the Authentix team added quantitative fluorescent markers to legitimate fuel and measured for dilution. These markers are detected using special, intrinsically-safe readers.

    The marker creates a unique fingerprint to identify legitimate fuel at retail sites, and is only visible with a highly-sensitive field detection device. Quantitative measurements of the marked LPG were taken using an Authentix LPX 1000 device reader. The device uses a monochromator principle to detect the presence of the optical marker in the fuel.

    The Full Roll-Out

    On October 8, 2018, Coral Gas began using LPG markers to protect their branded automotive LPG at approximately 350 retail sites, 100 of which are company owned/operated, and 250 that are dealer owned/operated.

    As part of the program, Coral Gas is performing unannounced checks at service stations to ensure the quality and quantity of LPG. In addition, a state-of-the-art electronic system ensures the quality of the gas, accuracy of the mass meter controls, and that the program is being operated correctly by each Coral Gas distributor.

    The program is designed to further advance the already-stringent quality controls that Coral Gas has in place. “The application of this molecular tracer system is part of the ongoing commitment to our customers to deliver quality fuels with excellent specifications,” said Coral Gas CEO Panagiotis Charitopoulos. “At Coral Gas, there are no compromises on quality issues and very high standards are maintained throughout our fuel management process.”

    This is the first LPG marking system implemented in Europe. Working with Authentix, Coral Gas has implemented an effective solution to ensure that, every day, Coral Gas customers receive the precise, high-quality LPG that their brand promises.

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