Vivo Energy Namibia last week unveiled a mobile quality laboratory (MQL), which includes a fully-automated fuel value tester that permits rapid and precise analysis of petrol and diesel directly on-site. The mobile laboratory is able to produce key test results within 30 minutes, and is expected to enhance an already stringent control process in place throughout the company’s supply chain.
The MQL will be used to collect, test and analyse fuel and lubricant samples at Shell retail service stations and commercial customers nationwide. The aim of this is for the quality assurance of the products on offer.
“The mobile lab does not only help with the quality of the product, but it also reaffirms the message that we care about our customers deeply. We test our products at our laboratories located at all loading points along the supply chain,” stated Vivo Energy Namibia’s managing director Edward Walugembe.
The new MQL also includes a digital density meter to verify the density of the different fuels. The team now has the ability to confirm how volatile or flammable the Shell fuels and lubricants are by using a digital flashpoint tester.
“For additional tests that cannot be conducted on-site, the MQL is equipped with sampling equipment to extract and safely store samples, which can then be tested back in our fully-fledged laboratories in Windhoek or Tsumeb,” explainded Demetrio Möwes, the Product Quality Excellence Lead at Vivo Energy Namibia.
There are also volume measures to check if the dispensed fuel volume is as it should be. “If there are any discrepancies, ultimately what we would do is then to immediately contact the contractors to come and calibrate the pumps. Very important, the Namibia Standards Institute (NSI) will come and do the verifications,” added Möwes.
“These quality standards that they are adhering to is something that we take pride in as a country. The year 2020 and 2021 tested our resilience in every sector as a country, and more so for the petroleum industry as the pandemic threatened our health and economic livelihood structure in many ways,” stated acting petroleum commissioner in the mines and energy ministry, Maggy Shino.
She said with the advent of the Ukrainian conflict, the Namibian economy was subjected to further unprecedented pressure, particularly in the energy industry, where the increase in demand and supply affected the oil price.
Shino added: “We are all witnesses to the current impact of fuel prices. I believe it’s time that oil marketers rise above and beyond, and deliver to the Namibian people.”
With news reports on fuel smuggling that continue unabated in the northern parts of the country, motorists in these areas have been using the opportunity to fill up their cars with cheaper Angolan fuel as energy prices continue to increase.
Vivo Energy’s initiative also comes after a viral social media video uploaded by a concerned consumer, Leon Smith, revealed that some fuel stations actually dispense less fuel than what is indicated on the pump. In the video, he encouraged all motorists to verify the volume of fuel dispensed, adding that while international companies are above board, some of the individual service station owners are not. Smith showed how he paid for 20 litres of fuel, but received about 3% less. “Imagine if we all lose this amount of fuel, how much fuel is being lost by consumers?” he asked rhetorically. Speaking to New Era yesterday, Smith said Vivo Energy must be applauded for the mobile quality laboratory, adding that he hopes Namibia can establish an independent agency to verify all fuel quality and volumes.