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January 21, 2015

Volume 17 Issue 52

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Scottish Blender Booted from VLS

The United Kingdom Lubricants Association’s program for verifying lubricant quality suspended the membership of Ferguson & Menzies last month after review of one of its Opus-branded motor oils.

In its anonymized review process, UKLA’s Verification of Lubricant Specifications program upheld a complaint against Ferguson & Menzies’ Opus-branded Synopus Nova Ultra 5W-30 motor oil. The product had mutually exclusive claims of meeting ACEA (the European Automobile Manufacturers Association) engine oil standards.

VLS also tested a sample of the oil and found its sulfated ash content higher than allowed by specifications listed on the oil’s label.

On Oct. 8, in response to a VLS request to address the issue, Glasgow, Scotland-based Ferguson & Menzies published an apology to customers on its website, acknowledging that its labels contained inaccurate quality claims.

VLS still looked for additive companies offering formulations that could have met the Opus product claims. Failing to find them, the program considered the possibility that Ferguson & Menzies may have used a customized formula. For several more weeks, VLS said, the lubricant company failed to provide written verification of product performance from a technology partner.

Consequently, VLS revoked Feguson & Menzies’ membership on Dec. 23. Its next step is to report the case to the U.K.’s Trading Standards Institute.

A Ferguson & Menzies representative told Lube Report that the company believes it has cooperated with VLS in attempt to resolve the case. "We have provided as much information as possible within the bounds of our non-disclosure agreement with our technology provider," said Nicholas Proud, the firm's managing director. Proud said the company's suspension is temporary.

The company is seeking reinstatement, which it said is currently under VLS' consideration. In the meantime, the company has decided to remove the product from the marketplace.

In just over a year and a half, VLS has attracted 19 members and taken on more than a dozen cases. A typical case starts with a plaintiff raising concerns over a particular product or group of products having incompatible performance claims, troubling low-temperature viscosities, or probable use of poor-quality, reclaimed base stocks or inadequate additives.