Petroleum companies are at the inter- section of two of the greatest challenges facing the world today – energy supply and environmental protection, asserts Total South Africa fuels and lubricants technical manager Thomas Surmon.
He believes the challenge is to develop an energy model that combines fossil fuels with low-carbon energy sources to satisfy demand without interruption, while simultaneously protecting the environment.
“Our responsibility as an energy producer is to meet both of these challenges as best we can and in a sustainable way. In practical terms, this means carefully managing our own operations and energy use, as well as providing our customers with the opportunity to do the same,” he explains.
With motor manufacturers having stepped up to the challenge of reducing emissions through modern, high-performance engines that emit low levels of carbon dioxide, Surmon says the petroleum sector has responded by providing the correct lubricants and fuels to enable engines and vehicles to perform at their best.
He notes that Total’s Evolution-branded fuels and its range of energy efficient lubricants are cutting fuel consumption by at least 1% in trucks and 2.5% in passenger cars.
Surmon describes the South African lubricants market as being “extremely competitive”, with a broad range of products on offer varying from technology developed in the 1960s to the most technologically advanced lubricants available worldwide.
“We are continually looking at innovative products and are working closely with manufacturers to develop new fuel-efficient lubricants. In addition, we devote 10% of our research and development capital to the improvement of our environmental performance,” he continues.
He adds that Total invests in the development of products with reduced environmental footprints, energy efficiency improvements and alternative energy sources.
He notes that because normal base oils cannot meet the engine test requirements to manufacture approved engine oils, the main challenge faced when producing these lubricants is the availability of synthetic base oils and sophisticated additive technology.