Greysteel fuel fraud makes pages of American Chemical Society magazine

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Two brothers from Greysteel, convicted of involvement in laundering and concealing illicit fuel last year, have made the pages of the American Chemical Society’s official magazine.

Stephen Gurney (28) was arrested on May 16, 2013 after HMRC officers seized 4,500 litres of laundered fuel and 1,200 litres of waste product, at a shed on Foyle Avenue.

He was last year convicted of fraudulent evasion of excise duty and VAT in relation to hydrocarbon oil and of being knowingly concerned in the concealing of such goods.

His brother, Roland Gurney of Vale Road, Greysteel, was convicted of fraudulent evasion of excise duty and VAT in relation to hydrocarbon oil.

Alex Scott, in an article in the current edition of Chemical and Engineering News, writes that the operation for which the Gurney’s were convicted involved the removal of red dye from agricultural red diesel using a bleaching agent.

Mr Scott, however, explains that new chemical solutions are being applied to the problem of fuel fraud around the world.

“UK authorities say many more fuel fraudsters like the Gurneys are slipping through their hands. This is because once the dyes have been removed, laundered fuel cannot easily be identified. Fraudsters around the world typically remove dyes, such as the azo dye Solvent Red 26, by passing the fuel through an absorbent, such as activated carbon, or by washing the fuel with an acid or caustic soda.

“To help Governments curb fuel fraud, a handful of companies are introducing technologies that make it possible to identify laundered fuels. Innovations include a hydrocarbon molecule developed by Dow Chemical and a novel detection technology invented by a former UK chemistry professor,” he writes.

He says it comes at a huge cost, particularly here.

“Fuel fraud costs governments around the world about 100 billion dollars annually, according to Addison, Texas-based Authentix, a provider of fuel-marking programs. The problem is particularly acute in Northern Ireland, where eight per cent of all fuels and 12–13 per cent of diesel is illicit. The country loses about 1 billion dollars in tax revenue annually as thieves resell laundered fuel for more than twice the subsidised or tax-free price of fuel still containing dye.”