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MT: The EPA's decision to move up the initial 2004 emissions deadline by two years left engine manufacturers concerned about not having a proper amount of time to test their new products. As chairman ...

MT: The EPA’s decision to move up the initial 2004 emissions deadline by two years left engine manufacturers concerned about not having a proper amount of time to test their new products. As chairman of the ASTM heavy-duty engine oil classification panel, do you have similar concerns about how quickly motor oil manufacturers have had to respond to the need for new formulations?

Mc Geehan: No. Knowing what we had to do, we felt it was extremely important to have CI-4 oils in the marketplace before the October emissions deadline and we worked aggressively on getting all the engine tests finalized last December. Oils that can meet the CI-4 requirements are in the market today. There were also other drivers that accelerated the process. Very early on Cummins came up with its own standard, CES20078, which basically incorporates all the CI-4 limits plus one extra test, a Mitsubishi valve wear test for slider followers. The process was further accelerated by Mack, which introduced the EON-Premium Plus specification. This takes the CI-4 limits and lowers them significantly making the requirements even more severe than CI-4.

You are going to see on labels between now and September oils that qualify for CI-4 and the Cummins specifications. I’m convinced most of the products out there will be able to meet the CI-4 and Cummins specifications. And then there will be a more selective number of oils that will meet the new Mack specification. All those products will be in the marketplace before October so I don’t think there will be any issue around quality of engine oils in the marketplace. What’s missing is that there are not many engines out there running with EGR so the engine manufacturers and ourselves can get the amount of data that we normally like to see.

MT: Can you briefly outline the most significant challenges the new EGR technology will place on motor oils come this October?

Mc Geehan: The first challenge is wear control. With EGR you are putting exhaust gas, which has been cooled from about 1200F to 300F, back in with the inlet air into the cylinder. Diesel fuel still contains sulfur, although at lower levels, and when you combust that you form acids. We have to ensure the motor oil neutralizes that acid to protect the rings, liners and bearings. The second challenge is oxidation control because of the greater stress on the engine oil. Since there is a greater heat rejection, the oil has to operate at higher temperatures. And then there is soot, which will vary by engine manufacturer. Some engines will develop more soot than others and motor oils will have to deal with that.

MT: Chevron is in the unique position of being able to meet the CI-4 standard with its Delo 400 Multigrade product without reformulation. Can you explain what it is about the Delo product that made that possible?

Mc Geehan: About 12 years ago, we considered how to make products that stay competitively ahead in the marketplace. One of the methods we found and deployed was what we called quality functional deployment (QFD). It’s a system where you define what customers need and what products you should benchmark. We used that process when we developed CH-4 oils, and so we knew what customers wanted in terms of items such as long drain requirements and engine durability. It was in part by using that process that we were able to get a higher quality oil into the marketplace. And because we were using a higher quality oil when the CI-4 standard came along we were able to meet it without reformulating. We are also listed on the Mack Premium Plus list and the Cummins list. We were using hydrocracked base stocks, which are more thermally stable than solvent refined oils and provide greater oxidation control. The quality of our additives package, which was also defined by the QFD process, was another factor.

MT: I assume being able to go to market with a product that didn’t have to be reformulated could prove an important marketing tool?

Mc Geehan: It was our intent to do that. What we’ve learned when it comes to customers is that what they basically need to know, without a lot of technical explanation, is this: is the oil in my tank okay for my current engine and for an EGR engine? And we can tell our customers that the Delo 400 Multigrade product they have in their tank today satisfies all existing requirements and if they are in the process of buying an EGR engine, the same oil will satisfy those requirements too.

MT: Will the Chevron product continue to be marketed separately from Texaco’s product?

Mc Geehan: Yes, we are going to have dual channels of marketing. We have two very well established brands in the Delo and Ursa heavy duty motor oils with two separately marketed distribution systems. But we will separate some of the technology, and some of the enhancements we have made with Chevron Delo will be incorporated into the Texaco Ursa brand as well.

MT: There has been much speculation about the impact EGR technology will have on drain intervals. Has Chevron been able to conduct enough testing with the new engines to determine if it will be able to maintain the same drain intervals as with current engines?

Mc Geehan: We are confined by confidentiality agreements in what we can say about engine testing. But I can say that oil drains will be reduced. You can protect the power cylinder provided you have adequate detergency to neutralize the additional acids associated with EGR but you are putting more acid into the cylinder so I think oil drains will have to be reduced to maintain engine durability. By how much will be defined and determined by each engine manufacturer.

MT: How about Cat’s ACERT technology? Are there significant differences in terms of the demands it will place on motor oils and how it will impact drain intervals?

Mc Geehan: They are not using EGR so there is not the demand in terms of increased acid in the cylinder. There is very limited field testing to date on the ACERT system. It uses a new fuel system combined with a different turbocharger and an oxidation catalyst. From what I’ve read, because they are not using EGR, they may be able to maintain the normal drains where they are at right now. But again this is a totally new system and I would say there isn’t the field data out there today to say exactly where that oil drain will be.

MT: Most fleets will be running both pre-EGR and EGR engines. How should they proceed with drain interval management?

Mc Geehan: It depends on how sophisticated the fleet is. If the fleet’s maintenance system is sophisticated enough to manage the two different drain intervals, to minimize operating costs they would want to maintain their fleet at the current oil drain intervals for pre-EGR engines, and maybe even look at slightly increasing them because CI-4 oils are of higher quality and some have better detergents. But if they were buying EGR engines, which will likely have reduced drain intervals, it would be best to segregate those engines and go by the recommended oil drain.

MT: Will the CI-4 standard and new engine designs affect oil analysis?

Mc Geehan: Primarily no, but depending on the sophistication of the analysis a fleet currently does, with EGR monitoring the Total Base Number would be important as well. If you run out of base, the metals – iron, copper, lead — will go up. And that’s an indication of problems.

MT: So far the speculation among industry observers is that the increased demands placed on motor oil by the new engine technology will result in higher prices for CI-4 oils. Should Chevron motor oil customers expect a price increase?

Mc Geehan: Price is always a market-driven variable and the market is extremely competitive. I don’t think people should be concerned that price will shoot up dramatically. The rumors about prices going up 30% or 50% are wrong. When we went to CH-4 we had no change in price, even though it was a product good enough to meet even CI-4 requirements.

MT: Can you provide a sense of the costs involved for your industry in moving to a new motor oil classification?

Mc Geehan: The ASTM (American Socie
ty of Testing and Materials) cost in category testing was $ 5.71 million. In addition, to develop the new oil formulation and chemistry by the four additive suppliers plus the cost of development by the oil companies would cost approximately about $15 million. The total cost for API CI-4 oils to our industry was about $20 million.

MT: The next round of emissions standards comes up in 2007. Do oil manufacturers have a good enough sense of the direction engine technology will take to begin working on the next oil formulations?

Mc Geehan: Yes, partly because Europe has a new emissions standard coming up in 2005 that is similar in many regards to the 2007 U.S. standard. It will involve particulate traps and also a catalyst to reduce NOx. Sulfated ash in engine oils today ranges from 1.2% to 1.5%; European manufacturers are already specifying that should come down to 1%. We will see reductions in sulfated ash, reductions in the phosphorus level and reductions in the sulfur level derived from the additives package and maybe the base oil. There are already targets being defined in Europe for those. In our June meeting the discussion was already about 2007. So the work has already begun.

MT: At this point, what kind of changes to motor oil do you envision for 2007?

Mc Geehan: This next change in motor oils is going to be the one that will require the most research and development. We are going to have to spend far more money than we have ever spent before between now and 2007. But it’s a change that’s necessary because there’s no question that the public wants clean diesel engines. And when you look at the limits for 2007, there are certainly going to be clean diesel engines. Meeting the new standard will require somewhat of a paradigm shift in engine oils – we are going to need new detergents, we may have to move to hydrocracked base stock, which has better oxidation stability and no sulfur. But I don’t have any fear at all that we will meet the targets for 2007.

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