SOURCE: FuelQuest


June 25, 2014 09:00 ET

FuelQuest Releases 2nd Annual Eye on Energy Fuel Industry Survey

Survey Unveils Key Trends and Concerns: Margin Management Priority for Fuel Volatility Strategies, Hurricane Preparedness Tactics and a Gloomy Forecast for Alternative Fuels

HOUSTON, TX--(Marketwired - Jun 25, 2014) - FuelQuest Inc., the leading on-demand software and services company for the global downstream energy industry, today announced the results of its second annual Eye on Energy survey. The survey conducted at FuelQuest's 10th annual GRAIL conference, spotlights the 2014 business priorities and challenges of more than 180 market leaders from retail, distribution, supply, and transportation companies. The results also address sentiments and strategies around margin management, hurricane preparedness, alternative fuels and U.S. energy independence.

"This year's GRAIL conference unveiled remarkable insights from key market leaders within the energy industry underscoring unique perspectives around issues impacting fuel price volatility and alternative sources of energy," said Phil Fraher, president and CEO of FuelQuest. "The 2nd Annual Eye on Energy survey highlighted the need for automated solutions to help downstream organizations better manage operational challenges. It's this kind of knowledge that helps our company effectively address key customer challenges."

Key insights from the FuelQuest Eye on Energy survey revealed:

Margin Management, Fuel Invoicing Top 2014 Business Priorities
With an increased awareness of the new normal of fuel volatility, margin management was ranked as the No.1 business priority (42 percent) among respondents this year, while improving the fuel invoicing process closely followed behind at No.2 (40 percent). According to FuelQuest calculations, a single truckload of fuel costs approximately $30,000 and on average 10 percent or more of these invoices have inaccuracies. These costly mistakes highlighted by recent invoicing scandals signal a need for improved invoicing in the industry. Other priorities that are top of mind include business acquisitions (38 percent) and improved fuel management (32 percent).

Bulletproof Hurricane and Disaster Preparedness
With the Atlantic hurricane season now under way, retailers, suppliers and fleets are well aware that they should be prepared for hurricane season and are implementing necessary preparedness strategies. Even though reports state that this year's season could be a quieter year than normal, it is important that businesses not neglect the implementation of emergency preparedness strategies. According to the FuelQuest Eye on Energy survey, basic preparedness seems to be understood and implemented as over half of respondents have contracted supply (54 percent) and emergency preparedness plans (52 percent). However, businesses overwhelmingly do not consider generators to be a top priority despite their help in emergency situations as witnessed during Hurricane Sandy, with only 22 percent of respondents currently prepared with installed generators. Furthermore, very few are applying other key strategies critical for optimal, bulletproof preparedness:

  • Only 28 percent have secondary or tertiary supply arrangements
  • Less than a quarter (18 percent) have fuel management automation

Strategies Revealed to Combat Fuel Price Volatility
With today's fuel volatility and the possibility for an increase in volatility throughout the hurricane season, fuel companies shared strategies that will help mitigate market fluctuations and improve margins that have traditionally been difficult to calculate. Survey respondents indicated that real-time margin visibility is the best way to combat fuel price fluctuations (34 percent). Improved demand forecasting ranked second with 28 percent. Other strategies include:

  • Diversified supply portfolio management (26 percent)
  • Greater forecourt automation (18 percent)
  • Automated buy recommendations (16 percent)
  • Improved credit terms (6 percent)

Natural Gas Plans Remain in a Holding Pattern
Despite price disparities between compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) to traditional diesel fuel, the industry is uncertain about their future plans related to these. Thirty-two percent of participants were 'unsure' about how CNG and LNG fit into their company's future plans. However, 28 percent of respondents indicated that natural gas was part of their existing portfolio. Other responses include:

  • Don't plan to adopt (20 percent)
  • Under review (12 percent)
  • Plan to adopt in the next 1-3 years (six percent)
  • Plan to adopt in the next 3-5 years (two percent)

Industry Believes More Exploration, Less Regulation as Keys to U.S. Energy Independence
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, last year's biodiesel production reached 1.35 billion gallons and ethanol production reached 13.8 billion gallons due to the recently released U.S. Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS). GRAIL respondents agree with this call-to-action with 46 percent citing biofuels as a key driver helping the U.S. achieve energy self-sufficiency. Respondents also stated increased exploration as the single most important factor (48 percent) while also citing less governmental regulation (34 percent).

About the FuelQuest Eye on Energy Survey
FuelQuest conducted this survey in-person during its GRAIL conference in Nashville, Tennessee, from April 22-23, 2014, with more than 180 fuel executives, managers, and professionals with retailers, distributors, suppliers, and fleet-based companies in attendance. More than half of the survey participants are industry leaders who annually buy, sell, or transport more than 300 million gallons of fuel. Now in its tenth year, GRAIL offers invaluable insight into how leaders from their respective industries are addressing critical fuel trends and challenges facing the market today.

FuelQuest provides industry leading software and services to suppliers, distributors, retailers, carriers and fleets who utilize transportation fuels throughout the world. We improve our customers' profitability and abate their risk by delivering solutions to manage and optimize fuel procurement, logistics, reconciliation and regulatory processes. FuelQuest's solutions deliver operational and financial value for companies responsible for managing more than 22 billion gallons (83 billion liters) of gasoline, biodiesel, CNG, LNG, ethanol, propane and diesel annually at more than 20,000 locations.
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