Adulterated motor oils ruin car engines in Idlib

A motor oil store in the northwestern city of Idlib - November 2023 (Enab Baladi/Anas al-Khouli)

A motor oil store in the northwestern city of Idlib - November 2023 (Enab Baladi/Anas al-Khouli)


Idlib – Anas al-Khouli

The 36-year-old Amer al-Fadhli was tired of his car’s engine frequently overheating and running out of oil, thinking that he needed to repair or change a part inside it or even change it completely.

The taxi driver said that the oil decreases rapidly in the engine, and traces of evaporation appear with an increase in temperature, which hinders his work, which is his source of income, and changing the oil costs him additional financial burdens.

A mechanic told al-Fadhli that the main problem lies in the bad motor oil and the solution is to use good quality oils to save the engine from being in bad condition.

The activity of car markets and their supplies in northern Syria has led to chaos in the import of oils, and poor motor oils are repackaged and sold as being of high quality, which has had a negative impact on cars and cost their owners money.

Disastrous results

Idlib-based mechanic Talib al-Obaid said that engine oils play an important role in making engines work at their best. The oil ensures that the internal parts of the engine do not come into direct contact, thus reducing the heat of friction between the moving parts.

Al-Obaid told Enab Baladi that the use of poor-quality motor oils leads to a decline in this process inside the engine or even its breakdown, which gives disastrous results for the engines.

He added that he receives many cars in his workshop that need to change the engine, due to the use of poor mineral oils.

The matter is not limited to malfunctions, as the use of low-quality mineral oils leads to weak engine power and high fuel consumption due to the large number of impurities and carbon deposits inside the engine, according to al-Obaid.

The mechanic advises changing the engine oil within the period necessary for the change, depending on the type of oil and its quality, and staying away from cheap oils of unknown origin, as they have disastrous effects on the car.

The prices of motor oils per liter range between $2.5 and $4, noting that good oils need to be changed after the car has traveled four thousand kilometers, according to the mechanic. ($1=29 TL)

While low-quality oils need to be changed after traveling a distance of two thousand kilometers, and with a simple calculation, al-Obaid believes that high-quality oils, even if they are more expensive, are more economical.

A motor oil store in the northwestern city of Idlib - November 2023 (Enab Baladi/Anas al-Khouli)

A motor oil store in the northwestern city of Idlib – November 2023 (Enab Baladi/Anas al-Khouli)

“Messy import”

Salem Qoura, 55, who has been working in the trade of motor oils for more than 20 years, told Enab Baladi that traders previously relied on the state-run Syrian Company for the Storage and Distribution of Petroleum Products (SADCOP), which produces high-quality oils at reasonable prices, in addition to the availability of other types of motor oils such as Mobile, Castrol, and Total.

Qoura added that the market in the north today is very open, as the merchant can import any type of motor oil and bring it in “transit” into the region without any supervision, which has led to the spread of unknown types of motor oils and a large number of fraudulent operations.

He explained that the openness of the market led to an expansion of options for car and bike owners, as well as the lack of awareness among citizens about the quality of oils spread in the markets, which increased the possibility of customers being subjected to “fraud.”

German, Korean, Iraqi, and Belgian engine oils of varying quality are spread in the markets of northern Syria, and citizens prefer low-quality ones for several reasons, the most important of which is the high prices of good oils and drivers’ use of bad fuel that forces them to change the engine after a short period in all cases, according to what the merchant said.

Regarding oil prices, the merchant said that the price of a barrel of high-quality oil, regardless of the source, reaches $750, while the price of a barrel of Iraqi oil reaches $200, pointing to the high shipping costs for Korean and German oils, which is reflected in the price in the local market.

During his speech, Qoura pointed out that merchants have recently imported oils from Iraq, which are considered one of the worst types of oils in the world and contain a percentage of impurities exceeding 70%. The process of refilling these oils in containers similar to the good types is carried out to deceive citizens by some greedy merchants.

Specifications for oils

The relations official in the Petroleum Derivatives Directorate of the Syrian Salvation Government (SSG), Ahmed al-Sulaiman, said that the directorate set standard specifications for mineral oils and prevented the entry of several poor types that were causing damage to mechanisms.

Al-Sulaiman explained in a statement to Enab Baladi that the directorate conducted studies before and after controlling mineral oils, and the results were positive, and several brands of oils of good quality and suitable for machinery were approved.

Regarding monitoring mineral oils, al-Sulaiman said that the directorate’s employees carry out tours of mineral oil centers and factories and examine the materials to ensure their conformity with the approved specifications.

As for materials imported from the Bab al-Hawa border crossing, samples are taken from the shipments, analyzed in the directorate’s laboratory, and verified. If they conform to the approved specifications, the shipments are allowed to enter, and if they do not conform, they are rejected and prevented from entering the Idlib region, according to al-Sulaiman.



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