POSTSCRIPT / October 26, 1999 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Estrada could resort to Dingelizer or OilEx

UNTIL yesterday, inventor Daniel D. Dingel has not agreed to our proposed 1,000-km test run to prove to the watching world that his modified 1600cc car has no hidden gasoline tank and runs on nothing but water.

During the supervised run, nothing will be introduced into the car except certified plain water. We figured that even if there were a hidden gasoline tank feeding the Dingelizer, the secret fuel would run out in 1,000 km.

We can hold a similar stationary test of the Dingelizer in a laboratory, but a supervised test drive on a public road, such as the South Luzon Expressway, would be best for public consumption.

Why is Dingel afraid of such a public test run?

* * *

A POSTSCRIPT suki, Manuel C. Diaz using an aol (America On Line) address, shares information related to the Dingelizer:

“The fuel used in Mr. Dingel’s car might be the A21 fuel blend invented by Gunnerman, a German scientist. This fuel is 50 percent water, 45 percent naptha, and 5 percent proprietary binder.

“Mr. Dingle might have stumbled on the secret binder. This might be the reason why he is reluctant to have the exhaust analyzed. However, if we use this type of fuel, we will be saving 55 percent of our oil imports. Good for our country, bad for the oil cartel.

“The USEPA and the US Department of Energy issued a two-page fact sheet on the fuel blend. The fact sheet says that A-21 fuel blend does not meet the definition of an alternative fuel, because of its petroleum content. It also says that A-21 is legal to purchase in the US, and that engine modifications to use it are legal as long as they don’t boost emission.

“The fuel still is being tested to verify its low emission, cold-start ability, and engine wear and tear. Tests on multiple engine designs in Nevada and at Caterpillar’s Illinois testing facilities show it performs as well as conventional fuels but with a 60-percent reduction in key emissions.

“For cars and light trucks, the only modification needed is a new set of spark plugs. For diesel buses and trucks, it is a two-hour retrofit costing at least $ 1,000. In either case, the modified engine could run on A-21 or conventional fuels.”

* * *

STILL on fuel, President Estrada recently told the nation the supposedly good news that we were going to buy Venezuelan oil priced 45 percent cheaper than the crude being brought in by the local oil cartel.

He gave the impression that the deal was promised him by Venezuelan President Hugo Rafael Chavez during his recent Manila visit.

We hope that the President got the Venezuelan commitment right. Otherwise, his announcement would just be another cruel joke on this nation reeling from the unconscionable increases in the prices of gasoline and other oil products.

Malacañang should make a followup announcement on the alleged deal. Better still, it should tell us the truth, because we’ve heard that Venezuela habitually sells its oil at a hefty profit even to friends.

* * *

BESIDES that, the Philippine government is not yet in the business of oil trading, does not have a government-run refinery, and in fact had sold for 13 pieces of silver its once strategic hold on Petron, one of the three majors in the local oil industry.

We wonder, too, why the Venezuelan president just kept smiling at the cameras but did not issue a written commitment to sell cheap oil to this poor country.

Years ago, we had a similar deal with China that promised crude at “friendly” prices. Indeed, the Chinese oil was cheaper, but it had excessive sulfur and the refineries had to undergo expensive cleaning up after processing it.

Even Venezuelan oil cannot be landed that cheap after somebody tacks on the usual commission. Remember, these juicy mega-deals do not just happen between innocent parties untainted with original sin.

Then also, how will the government force Shell, Caltex and Petron to purchase Venezuelan oil for their refineries? Shell and Caltex buy only from their mother companies Royal Dutch Shell and Texaco, while Petron is committed to buy only from Saudi-Aramco, which owns 40 percent of Petron.

We suspect tuloy that the Palace “good news” was either a snake oil deal or another Erap joke.

* * *

IF President Estrada wants a way out of the oil squeeze, he can either help patent and commercially produce the water-powered Dingelizer (assuming it really works) or call in Bataan Rep. Enrique “Tet” Garcia for some valuable tips on fighting the oil ogre.

One idea being floated lately by Garcia is the creation by law of an oil exchange (OilEx) that will centralize all purchases, storage and distribution of finished oil products bought from all possible sources worldwide.

Under Garcia’s proposal, the OilEx will call for international bids for the supply of gasoline and other finished petroleum products – not crude oil — and buy at the lowest price.

Shell, Caltex and Petron can keep operating their refineries and also sell to the OilEx, but they will have to bid lower against other suppliers.

The Big Three will be forced to improve their efficiency — and to stop or at least modify their three-stage overpricing to compete in the international bidding conducted by the OilEx.

* * *

CONSUMERS must be told of the three stages of multiple-profiteering by the oil cartel as outlined by Garcia:

1. Overpricing at source – The cartel of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) led by Saudi Arabia dictates and manipulates the supply and the price, and other producers like Shell and Texaco follow. All OPEC has to do is say so and it is so. Since production cost is practically fixed, the per-barrel price should have stayed at the $10 level in March. But OPEC decided that it should now be $22 (or 120 percent higher!) and possibly $26 toward yearend — and that’s it. Naturally, Shell and Texaco went along.

Garcia estimated that this $12 overprice at source translated to a P3.24-per-liter increase in pump price in the country. Based on our annual consumption, the overprice adds up to P81 billion in one year. Since the original $10barrel price already covered total costs, the P81 billion additional revenue is additional profit for Royal Dutch Shell, Texaco and Saudi-Aramco.

2. Oil transfer pricing – Before deregulation, price control ceiling were based on landed cost of crude. Since the Big Three were buying from their mother companies, it was easy for them to overstate their landed cost to justify price increases.

This explains why the Big Three’s refinery gate prices of gasoline and other finished products are higher than Singapore export prices by $3 per barrel (76 centavos per liter). Since Singaporean refineries were geared for the open export market, there was no advantage for them to engage in bloated transfer pricing.

3. Outright lagaring-hapon profiteering – When world crude prices go up and/or the peso-dollar exchange rate deteriorates, the Big Three raise their prices well beyond the additional costs. But when world prices go down, they do not slash local prices to as low as the drop in world prices.

Coming and going, they rake in profits not in proportion to the increase or the decrease in their costs. The government always threatens to audit them, but nothing is done after the press release sees print.

* * *

WE have another question that we want to toss to experts on car engines. We only ask that they not be too technical in their language and to instead use understandable terms.

Dingel told us among other things sometime back that a car runs better without the air filter/cleaner put in by manufacturers. He said the filter just adds to the cost of the car, gets in the way, and shortens the life of the engine.

Can we please hear from the experts, preferably via email so we can copy/paste their text easily. Our tired typing fingers, all four of them, need some rest.

Dingel explained that the ideal air-fuel ratio in cars is around 15 to 1. The filter restricts the flow of air and reduces the ratio to something like 8 to 1, he says, adding that removing the filter will allow the engine to “breathe” more properly.

* * *

BUT isn’t the air filter supposed to keep out dirt and other unwanted objects like dry leaves, insects, dust and other debris? Dingel said the filter itself, made of fibrous synthetic material, flings its own fibers into the engine’s chamber.

Don’t worry about a little dirt, he said, because this is instantly burned as it enters the combustion chamber. Right after being incinerated, the dirt (whatever it is) is immediately sucked out with the exhaust without a chance of its getting deeper into the engine to inflict any damage.

We’ve noticed that vehicles with their filters removed, especially those cars treated with his ElectroMagnetic Fluid (EMF), turn into power machines that surge with only a gentle tap on the accelerator.

Now shall we please hear from the experts?

* * *

(First published in the Philippine STAR of October 26, 1999)

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