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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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%
Authentix uses its fuel authentication solution to uncover pervasive product smuggling and reduce smuggling losses by 80%.
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.
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.
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.
Authentix solution uses authentication technology and transfer of knowledge to build a reliable, best-in-class program for a developing country.
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.
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 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.
Fuel authentication solution by Authentix used to combat commingling achieves a seven percent decrease in failure rate for a major US fuel marketer.
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
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 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.
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.
The article below is the result of an interview conducted by writer Mila Milosavljević and Chad Crouch, Authentix Vice President of Sales for Serbian publication Pečat. This content has been edited and translated to English for use on authentix.com. You can find the original copy on the publication’s website http://www.pecat.co.rs/2019/11/ced-krauc-tajna-nevidljive-akcizne-markice/.
Chad Crouch is Vice President of Sales at Authentix, responsible for the global sale of oil and gas market protection programs as well as brand protection. During his five-year tenure, he has overseen project management, program establishment and contributed to the efficient program delivery to many Authentix clients. In his current position, he is focused on developing and securing new clients for the company’s programs.
Authentix’ partner in Serbia is Nanoinspekt, which according to Crouch is known as a very reliable partner and is Authentix’ official representative and distributor in Serbia and the surrounding countries. As our interlocutor points out, these two companies are intensively working on expanding their business and cooperation in the future.
How does Authentix push the boundaries in the oil and gas domain?
Authentix’ mission is to safeguard the integrity of global commerce, and we do this by delivering advanced authentication solutions. In our oil and gas business, we deliver world-class technology to create solutions for governments and oil and gas companies to counter the illegal trade in fuels, crude oil and liquid gas. The programs we provide for state governments aim to instill confidence in the national fuel market to combat illegal trade, increase excise taxes and improve fuel quality throughout the distribution chain.
Authentix is unique because of our advanced level of innovation that allows us to connect the real world with the digital through our AXIS® management platform. Our users can collect, store and analyze data from multiple sources and then report on it. Through our software, clients receive an annotation from the operations performed in the programs to enable proactive combating of fuel fraud. We use our twenty-five years of experience to provide our customers with a turnkey solution, while on the other hand we work closely with governments and partners to provide them with technology in a timely manner to effectively run the program. We use state-of-the-art field-testing technologies as well as lab-based authentication that provide measurable results. Our unique markers are added to the fuel in very small quantities and our technology allow users to accurately determine the level of blending or illegal substances in the fuel. We are the global leader in this market with over two trillion branded liters of fuel so far, as well as the most active programs, with 12 national governments.
“Authentix’ mission is to safeguard the integrity of global commerce by delivering innovative authentication solutions. In our oil and gas business, we deliver world-class technology to create solutions for governments and oil and gas companies to counter the illegal trade in fuels, crude oil and liquid gas.”
As far as oil companies are concerned, our fuel authentication program enables them to protect branded fuels through the distribution line by ensuring that end customers get the quality fuel they intended to buy. In many cases, oil companies have a diluted distribution chain where they license their brand and hand it over to franchised retail gas stations. The oil marketing companies use our technology to validate the integrity of their supply chain and to confirm that they are selling the proper additized fuel at the specified octane levels.
How did Authentix revolutionize this field of business, both scientifically and economically? How are the programs set up and how do they function, for example in the Serbian program?
I will mention two examples. The first has many similarities to the excise stamp program. Obviously, you can’t paste an excise stamp on a liquid, but our excise markers do just that. With our technology and analytical equipment, we authenticate that our invisible “excise stamp” is in the fuel. For example, you may have two diesel products that are exactly the same quality and specification, but the customer may need to differentiate the products based on a different tax status. Our markers provide the ability to differentiate between these products and also detect, quantitively, if the products have been mixed. Another example would be a fingerprint. By using a marker, you give the fuel a fingerprint that allows the user to detect changes in the fuel such as “diluting” with illegal fuel or mixing other substances in the fuel.
Huge money can be made through illegal activities in the oil and gas industry such as fuel smuggling. Accordingly, we come across many advanced ways of conducting illegal activities that our technology combats. Some short examples: in some countries, fuel such as kerosene is subsidized for cooking. We find that wherever there is a difference in excise fuel prices, subsidized fuel appears where it should not be in the regular sales chain. The state loses on the difference between these specific taxes while entities engaged in illegal activities fill their pockets. You can also take the example of neighboring countries where fuel prices vary. Fuel smuggling occurs most often across borders where illegal activity makes a difference in prices. Our programs provide a great return on state taxes, but in addition, as has happened in Serbia, they make the market operate on fair terms for everyone. The state collects the revenue it has prescribed, and the oil companies get higher sales revenue because the distribution chain has integrity while making it impossible for distributors to work illegally.
What would you single out as the greatest achievement of Authentix?
One of the programs we are most proud of and that we always emphasize in case studies is the program in Serbia. The only way we evaluate our success is if we produce tangible results for our clients. We refer to the program in Serbia because we know that the user was very satisfied with the results generated by the fuel marking program, which is also the success of Authentix. In the first five years of this program, the Serbian government repaid about 720 million euros, which resulted in the extension of the contract for another five years. We are very proud of this achievement and the positive impact this program has in Serbia. Other programs around the world are also proving to be successful and have generated billions of dollars in profit for clients. All of this has resulted in long-term customer retention in more than 95 percent of cases.
Fuel authentication programs are continuing to grow as national governments and fuel companies alike combat worldwide fuel manipulation that results in revenue losses equaling $133 billion a year. Revenue losses are incurred when stolen, adulterated or defrauded fuel is sold on the retail market at premium prices, affecting everything from brand reputations to government tax revenues and the environment. Check out the infographic at the link below for an animated look at how Authentix is transforming fuel authentication with technology and data.