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Re: The Castrol/Mobil "court case" - how it went down [Re: MolaKule] #4975526 01/10/19 08:50 PM
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Nyogtha Offline
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Originally Posted by MolaKule
When I first studied this non-legal issue and its outcome many years ago I said to myself, "If I wanted to bring a technical (chemistry) issue against a competitor, what's the Dumbest and most Stupidest thing I could do?? I would go to a NON-TECHNICAL business association to have the issue settled." eek

Sure, it involved some "Slippery Slope Advertising and Marketing," BUT in the main circus arena would be the question of whether or not a certain Group of base oil could be defined as, 'Synthetic.'

Now in reality I would first have a sit-down meeting with that competitor and discuss the issue, with my attorney's and chemists in tow. Most likely the competitor would say, "Bug off!," which I would have anticipated.

SOOOO, my next step would be to ask The American Chemistry Council to convene a special committee to hear the technical issues involved and then have that committee report out to the full board and its membership, with the ACC ultimately issuing a finding and a public statement. cool

HOWEVER, if I knew the most likely outcome of a business group ruling would ultimately benefit my company, because I knew that that Group of base oils could substitute for my low supply of expensive PAO's, what better way to slowly introduce my Group III's into my formulations without the outside world taking notice?? ???

Except for BITOG of course!


I don't think XOM ever "stategically planned for" or "engineered for" several strong hurricanes making landfall in the Gulf Coast striking their primary PAO production facilities in order to use Visom in Mobil 1 products, unless you're truly a believer XOM is controlled by a mystical cabal with powers beyond mortal humans I suppose.

Last edited by Nyogtha; 01/10/19 08:51 PM.

"No matter how paranoid you are you're not paranoid enough. Tell the truth. Reach as many people as you can with it. That's your weapon." - Susanne Modeski, aka "Holly" to The Lone Gunmen
Re: The Castrol/Mobil "court case" - how it went down [Re: Garak] #4977060 01/12/19 02:27 PM
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MolaKule Offline
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Originally Posted by Garak
Originally Posted by aquariuscsm
What's so ironic is how Mobil as said in their technical paper "Switched from pao base stocks to Visom group 3 base stocks without the consumers' knowledge". Pot meet kettle. I wonder if that paper is still online somewhere?

You can be rest assured that Mobil (and most others) realized they'd be winners irrespective of the way things worked out in the wash. After all, if Castrol can sell Group III as synthetic, so can everyone else.



Yes, and that was my main "non-mystical" LOL point. Either way EXMOB would benefit.

But doesn't it seem bizarre that a company, and this was my other point, with a large staff of chemical PhD's, would bring a highly technical issue to a business organization for a decision unless they knew that ultimately it would benefit them as well; hurricane or no hurricane?


Last edited by MolaKule; 01/12/19 02:35 PM.

The value of a scientific theory is its ability to prompt further study, not that it has any relation to the established facts of scientific reality.
Re: The Castrol/Mobil "court case" - how it went down [Re: Shannow] #4977283 01/12/19 07:03 PM
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XOM's corporate culture prides itself on it's legal team above all other sectors of the business, a hallmark of the Exxon side pre-merger corporate culture. Mobil's corporate culture was overwritten after the merger (buyout) as is typical of the mergee (purchasee) in such transactions. One example: when I worked for Marathon assigned to issues of USEPA re-interpreting 1990's CAA provisions in 2000-2003, a consirtium of industry players with FCCU's formed a "battered CAA Consent Decree" roundtable group with USEPA participation; XOM steadfastly refused to even discuss these re-interpretations with a "we'll see y'all in court" response until the very end. I can understand how this may seem unusual to those not directy participating in the private sector for a large scale company if I step back for a more objective perspective.

For those of us who lived and worked at similar facilities affected by hurricanes Katrina & Rita and throughout the aftermath, these events were not simply experiences to be dismissed via conspiracy theories, and in fact are clearly mentioned in a bullet point of the XOM slideshow presentation.

These unpredictable sources of disruption to supply of the PAO market for unpredictable durations are what I *think* supplied the catalyst as it was for XOM to start using VISOM in M1, no matter what slowly plodding internal studies on PAO vs Gp III (+?) may have previoudly been predicting to be outcomes including gaining internal experience for XOM lubricamts organization in using base stocks with similar performance properties as GTL base stocks as mentioned in the slide show, on an industrial instead of pilot or demonstration facility scale. I think reading between the lines, XOM found the internal cost of keeping M1 free of Gp III (+?) stocks in such a sudden sudden unpredictable event for such an extended period without foresight to predict such a disruption and stockpile in anyicipation to be unpalatable, as well as the alternate solution to let such M1 products absorb the market impact of such disruption by passing along those costs in terms of longer term effect on market share.

Last edited by Nyogtha; 01/12/19 07:20 PM.

"No matter how paranoid you are you're not paranoid enough. Tell the truth. Reach as many people as you can with it. That's your weapon." - Susanne Modeski, aka "Holly" to The Lone Gunmen
Re: The Castrol/Mobil "court case" - how it went down [Re: Shannow] #4977363 01/12/19 08:35 PM
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Hurricane Ike in 2008 probably strongly reinforced this.


"No matter how paranoid you are you're not paranoid enough. Tell the truth. Reach as many people as you can with it. That's your weapon." - Susanne Modeski, aka "Holly" to The Lone Gunmen
Re: The Castrol/Mobil "court case" - how it went down [Re: Shannow] #4977599 01/13/19 01:36 AM
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And the ability to source a variety of base stock supplies for M1 was undoubtably beneficial after Hurricane Harvey in 2017


"No matter how paranoid you are you're not paranoid enough. Tell the truth. Reach as many people as you can with it. That's your weapon." - Susanne Modeski, aka "Holly" to The Lone Gunmen
Re: The Castrol/Mobil "court case" - how it went down [Re: Shannow] #4977963 01/13/19 01:30 PM
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Nyo, you haven't addressed the question, nor have you proposed an alternative Hypothesis as to why a very large and visible energy company would take a very technical topic of this kind to a Business organization, rather than taking it to an organization which would have members with expertise in the subject matter.

And possibly, there is no real answer, because we (you nor me) cannot know what went on inside EXMOB at this time in history.


The value of a scientific theory is its ability to prompt further study, not that it has any relation to the established facts of scientific reality.
Re: The Castrol/Mobil "court case" - how it went down [Re: Shannow] #4978141 01/13/19 05:57 PM
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I disagree with significant experience working for such organizations and find your hypotheseis condition of "hurricane or no hurricane" is invalid to begin with.

To posit such a large organizatiom to have PhD's at the forefront of the business mentality is likewise unrealistic as XOM deliberately conjuring hurricanes. PhD's are business resources in such organizations but not the ones steering business strategy. So if the finished product met the desired specs, and is formulated in accordance with industry rules, what business is it if anyone what the exact blend contains since that is a business confidential trade secret to begin with, as discussed, not visible on product labels outside one specific portion of the product market segment? So why convene an assembly of competitor representatives to advertise something there is zero business driver to advertise?

Everyone not directly involved in the events can never know *precisely* how events unfolded and it's near-miraculous that XOM slideshow presentation ever got leaked considering how attorney-proud the Exxon corporate culture has always been. However if they had pursued action publicly, it probably would have attracted much more attention than XOM desired from the motoring public.

This doesn't change the fact that while possibilities are endless, probabilities are finite bounded by 0 and 1, and that with large organizations, much like individuals, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior (and vice-versa).

Last edited by Nyogtha; 01/13/19 06:14 PM.

"No matter how paranoid you are you're not paranoid enough. Tell the truth. Reach as many people as you can with it. That's your weapon." - Susanne Modeski, aka "Holly" to The Lone Gunmen
Re: The Castrol/Mobil "court case" - how it went down [Re: Shannow] #4978865 01/14/19 12:11 PM
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I think XOM was smart to quietly bring the issue to an advertising board rather than a court of law, which would have attracted tons of mainstream media attention. If they won the NAD ruling they would have accomplished the same thing as in a court, i.e. Group III base oils cannot be labeled "synthetic". It wouldn't have the force of law, but the industry would adhere to it. If they lost (as they did), the news stays buried within the industry and the door remains open for them to join the Group III crowd at a later date (which they did). Yes the judging panel were not technical, but then judges rarely are, and many technical experts from the industry were called to testify for both sides.

I'm sure they realized that their later change to Group III would eventually be noticed by a small group of oil-heads (no offense BITOG) who would analyze data, samples, and MSDSs, and the news would circulate around specialty Internet forums. But they also knew that these enthusiasts are a very small number - the entire BITOG membership is only around 0.03% of the adult population in the USA, and most of them are not even active. I also think they handled the Internet uprising smartly, i.e., shut-up, repeat their mantra of "high quality synthetic base oils", and don't say anything publicly that could attract the media - just let the whole mess quietly blow over. I doubt they lost any significant business over this issue.

I should also point out that the NAD did not declare all Group IIIs to be synthetic as many believe. They simply said that Castrol's specific claims for their Group III+ based Syntec oils were acceptable, except for the part about "Unique Molecular Bonding" since they took the POE out of the new formulas. The rest of the industry jumped on this ruling and began marketing all Group IIIs as "synthetic", figuring that no one would challenge them after the NAD ruling and they can enjoy the higher margins from the synthetic market.

We as consumers benefited from this whole deal. With the higher demand for Group III stocks came higher production and wider availability. This allowed the engine manufacturers to ratchet up specifications for motor oils, and the increased competition brought synthetic prices way down (Group IIIs vs PAO/ester). Now we all get many more oil options at different price points in selecting what we feel we need or want for our cars, rather than just the old mineral or PAO/ester. And if we want PAO/ester based oils and are willing to pay for them, they are still available. Overall higher quality oils with more options and price points is a win-win for all.

Re: The Castrol/Mobil "court case" - how it went down [Re: Tom NJ] #4978893 01/14/19 12:32 PM
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Agree … worked out Ok for the consumer and OEM … and as pointed out often … many motor oils are built from various base stocks depending on target performance …

Re: The Castrol/Mobil "court case" - how it went down [Re: Shannow] #4979293 01/14/19 07:17 PM
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Thanks for the industry professional perspective & insight Tom!


"No matter how paranoid you are you're not paranoid enough. Tell the truth. Reach as many people as you can with it. That's your weapon." - Susanne Modeski, aka "Holly" to The Lone Gunmen
Re: The Castrol/Mobil "court case" - how it went down [Re: Shannow] #5003850 02/07/19 11:58 AM
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To keep it simple regarding the Castrol-Mobil lawsuit, this is what I tell myself:
The word "synthetic" changed from a content-based descriptor to a performance-based descriptor. Strangely, content is not the only predictor of performance. In other words, 1+1 does not always equal 2. Blended properly, 1+1 can equal 3. Because, lubricant engineers have developed synthetic blend-based (Gp III/conventional blend) oils that perform nearly as well as true synthetic-based (PAO/ester) oils, at a much lower price point. And as we all know, the general public is very much concerned with product prices.
So now, marketing specialists can say their oil is "full synthetic" because the oil is significantly different (chemically) from conventional oil, and it performs very similar to a true synthetic.
I don't know if that is simple, but it's how I managed to wrap my head around this giant [email protected] storm.


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Re: The Castrol/Mobil "court case" - how it went down [Re: DGXR] #5003917 02/07/19 01:01 PM
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Exactly! LiquiMoly does differentiate between synthetic & Synthetic-Technolgy. There are many case where synthetic-technology works better than synthetic.

Lubrication has come a long way from when I 1st started using synthetic oils in the 70s

Re: The Castrol/Mobil "court case" - how it went down [Re: DGXR] #5004390 02/07/19 09:37 PM
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And just for the 400,000th time, it wasn't a lawsuit.


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