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Risk of backfire from Shell Nitrogen Enriched wonder fuel?

…Early commercial success, however, became qualified when it appeared that in a small number of cars the new gasoline caused inlet values to burn..

By John Donovan

Shell is launching new nitrogen enriched gasolines and new V-Power premium gasoline in the US market. All the usual claims apply.

Shell Launches New Fuel

Some might think reading Shell’s advertising that nitrogen is a newly discovered chemical element. In fact it was discovered by a Scottish physician in 1772.  According to Wikipedia, it is notable for the range of explosively unstable compounds that it can produce. Lets hope that it does not blow up too many engines. I am only half joking.

I remember the launch of another wonder fuel by Shell in 1986, “Formula Shell”, based on new technology and with a scientific image deliberately conjured up by Shell.

There was only one small problem. The new wonder fuel ruined many car engines and it did so on an international basis.

Don’t take my word for it. Read the account given by Keetie Sluyterman, Shell’s paid historian, author of ‘A History of Royal Dutch Shell, volume 3.’

Extracts from pages 204 & 207

To create brand distinctiveness, Shell launched two new brands on the basis of new technology and supported by heavy advertising. Helix motor oil in 1985 and Formula Shell in 1986.  The word Formula in the new brand for gasoline was chosen for its scientific connotations. Also, it appeared unchanged in many languages, which was important for international advertising.

In the UK, Formula Shell was launched with the punchline:

‘From today not all petrol is the same.’

The launch of Formula Shell in Europe resulted in higher sales. This early commercial success, however, became qualified when it appeared that in a small number of cars the new gasoline caused inlet values to burn. Negative publicity was inevitable, though the damage occurred in only four countries, Denmark, Norway, Malaysia, and the UK.

It took Shell technical experts in collaboration with the motor manufacturers more than a year to establish the cause of the problem. In the meantime, the Formula Shell brand was withdrawn from a number of markets, including the UK.  Once the problem had been identified, the product was reformulated and relaunched, in some markets under a new brand name.

The degree of spin is self-evident — damage in ONLY four countries…


ASA BANS SHELL FUELSAVE ADVERTISING FALSE CLAIMS: UK Advertising Standards Authority: 19 October 2011

Shell ads banned over fuel claims: PRESS ASSOCIATION: 19 October 2011

Shell false claims over FuelSave featured on BBC TV Watchdog programme: 21 October 2011 and its sister non-profit websites,,,,,, and are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.

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