Control Helps Prevent Fuel Oil Skimming

September 24, 2007
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This past July, federal agents raided the offices of two New York oil transport companies, arresting four executives and accusing the heating oil companies of overcharging customers by approximately $75 million. According to the indictment, the companies “short-delivered,” billing customers for the full amount but holding back a portion to resell. This highlights the importance of verifying deliveries. Heating contractors can help their customers by installing digital fuel control gauges that help verify that the correct amount has been delivered.

One such product, The Verifier®, uses an ultrasonic measurement system that can confirm deliveries, according to manufacturer U.S. Energy Group, Fresh Meadows, N.Y. The product is being used in large residential and commercial buildings to prevent this type of incident.

The Verifier is said to confirm an oil delivery within 1/10 of an inch, recording the exact date, time, and amount of oil delivered to the tank, the company said.

“I would like to see the leading property owners’ organizations and the oil companies get together and create a standardized system of checks and balances,” said Warren Zaretsky, vice president of U.S. Energy Group. “We need to eliminate the opportunity for this type of theft.” The company has been designing, manufacturing, and marketing energy management systems (EMS) since the energy-conscious days of the 1970s.

The high price of oil and the lack of a system of checks and balances for the buyers has allowed skimming to take place, Zaretsky said; informal reports of mixing air with the oil, pumping oil into adjacent tanks, and tampering with truck tickets, has led to widespread distrust, he said.

The Use Manager is said to help facility management contractors control their buildings’ energy consumption by integrating information from an entire portfolio of buildings simultaneously. (Click on the image for an enlarged view.)

ADDITIONAL BENEFITS

Products like this control monitor the incremental use of oil, providing daily summaries, detailed use reports, and oil temperatures, which have the added benefit of helping maintenance staff gather troubleshooting data.

In addition, it provides alerts for low oil levels, short-cycling conditions, and leaks, plus boiler run times and fuel-use analysis. Contractors and facility managers can access the information via local and remote connections.

“I come at the market from my own experience as an owner of residential and commercial buildings,” said Jerry Pindus, CEO of U.S. Energy Group. “I developed The Verifier to prevent short deliveries.”

Mike Laub of the Realty Group has a high interest in fuel deliveries. “I have to know exactly what is happening in over 100 properties,” he said. By monitoring the exact deliveries, “I’m sure I’m getting all the oil I’m paying for. When I heard the story about the recent thefts, I was so glad that I acted … and that I can trust my oil company - trust, but verify.”

Another of the company’s products, Use Manager™, is said to help facility management contractors control their buildings’ energy consumption by integrating information from an entire portfolio of buildings simultaneously. The Internet-based building monitoring and management system helps facility management firms oversee all of their properties quickly from anywhere in the world, the company said.

Operational issues and alerts can be efficiently delegated for repair and maintenance work. In addition, a team of live portfolio managers, called “efficiency drivers,” monitors the information and recommends specific ways to fine-tune the buildings.

Use Manager also maintains detailed historical records for each property, then synthesizes the information for comparison and budgetary purposes. Managers can drill down into the information, make individual building adjustments, and fine-tune efficiencies. The system monitors critical boiler-related functions and apartment temperatures, tracks and compares oil and gas purchases and usage, and audits fuel bills with real-time pricing.

Users can customize settings, designate individuals to receive e-mail and text message alerts of any deviations from their customized specs, and follow-up to resolve violations. Data are monitored day and night through the protected and secure system, the company said. The system is designed to integrate a range of building-wide communications, back-office management, and administrative services.

For more information, contact Tom Scali at U.S. Energy Group, 718-380-1004; tom@use-group.com; or visit www.use-group.com.

Publication date: 09/24/2007

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