Effective wet-stock control is one of the most crucial aspects of running a forecourt business. Retailers who aren’t on top of things could not only be unnecessarily losing fuel - and in turn profit - but also setting themselves up for costly environmental clean-up bills. This is why the award for Best Oil Company Initiative at the Forecourt Trader of the Year event went to BP for its remote wet-stock management programme. It was first implemented in October 2004 and has now become part of its dealer offer, as well as being rolled out across the company-owned estate.

Stuart Giles, fuel sales manager at BP, explains: "Our stated long-term HSE goal is ’no accidents, no harm to people and no damage to the environment’. In achieving this, our first priority is prevention - we take steps to improve our processes in order to avoid incidents and minimise activities which threaten the environment. In assessing the risk from leaking underground tanks and pipework releasing product into the ground, BP considered the likelihood of leaks occurring on its forecourts where tanks and pipework were ageing and the consequences of such leaks at sensitive locations. We acknowledged that more could, and should, be done to reduce risk, not only on our own forecourts but also on forecourts owned by our dealers."

Research into suitable systems and technologies resulted in the selection of Fairbanks Environmental as a service provider of third-party remote wet-stock monitoring using Statistical Inventory Reconciliation (SIR) techniques. SIR techniques can be accredited to an internationally recognised standard such as that set by the US EPA. BP has adopted a demanding standard of nine litres per day leak detection, using weekly SIR analysis, to ensure that leaks are detected at the earliest opportunity.

The system is already proving its worth. BP estimates that in excess of 50,000 litres of fuel could have gone to ground - resulting in all of the associated remediation costs - had low level leaks not been detected and continued for another 12 months. In addition, the programme is also said to have identified wet-stock losses through pump over-measure, which would have amounted to more than £630,000-worth of fuel being given away, had the situation continued for the next year.

Giles adds: "On the dealer sites so far, Fairbanks has identified four suction pipework leaks, one offset fill pipework leak and 34 minor pump leaks and on those sites where over-dispensing meters have been identified, the average annual saving has been £2,200.

"By making this service available to all dealers upon conversion or re-signing as part of the dealer package, BP is helping to protect its dealers from the impact of a leak incident. As well as its entire company-owned network, there are currently 215 dealer sites that have signed up to the scheme, with more signing every week.

"One of the real benefits to our customers is the way that Fairbanks takes on the full management of the loss investigations, concluding them quickly with the least cost and disruption to the dealer.

"I’m really pleased to receive the Forecourt Trader Award on behalf of BP as I see this as industry recognition for implementing an excellent value added benefit and innovative solution for all BP dealers."


The Highly Commended award for Best Oil Company Initiative went to Maxol for its Maxwash Plus car wash branding concept.

Maxol has been investing in new state-of-the-art car wash equipment throughout its ’All Ireland’ network, with the high impact Maxwash Plus branding highlighting the new facilities. The graphics have been devised to draw attention to the advanced brush and conveyor wash technology and to create a distinct car washing destination at key sites.

The car wash package has now been installed at around 14 forecourts in Northern Ireland and another 10 in the Republic. The equipment is supplied by Washtec UK and is used with products from Simoniz.

Brian Donaldson, Maxol’s general manager for marketing and retail, says that car wash revenue is up on the Maxwash Plus sites and is attracting repeat trade. "The signage is easier for customers to understand and really draws them in," he says. "The increase in revenue has been between 10 and 25%. We’ve increased the programme prices, but that’s sustainable because the quality is so good. It’s very high standard equipment and the increase in regular trade would indicate that customers are very happy with it."


Hartmill North Connect opened in March 2005 and is a BP flagship site on the M8 route between Glasgow and Edinburgh. Carol O’Hara has managed the site from day one, bringing with her 16 years’ experience in the petrol retailing industry. She’s worked for BP for ten years, but has also had stints with Esso, Shell and Q8.

The win has been a big boost for staff morale, says Carol, and it was also quite nice to pip their nearest rivals, Hartmill South on the opposite side of the road.

"We were also the first BP site in Scotland to win an award," she says. "We work as one big team and take pride in the site."

In another first for BP, Hartmill North has also won an Eat Safe award from the Food Standards Agency - with Carol receiving the news in her London hotel room just before the Forecourt Trader awards ceremony.

The site is open 24 hours and includes a popular Wild Bean Café, which does particularly well at the height of the tourist season between March and October. It has a large seating area and as well as getting trade from passing coach parties, the site benefits from being near a park and ride scheme. There is also an ATM, and Carol is hopeful that the site might be considered for the M&S Simply Food format if BP rolls it out.