I have a confession. I still buy DVDs. Sure, I subscribe to a few (ok, way too many!) streaming services – they are very convenient, especially when travelling. But for a few choice films, I still purchase the DVD. Why? So I can listen to the director and crew commentary. I love hearing all the behind the scenes stories: how certain shots were set up, weird things they used for props, how costumes were designed (side note: Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy has some of the BEST commentaries – four different tracks!).
But my interest in behind-the-scenes details isn’t limited to films. I love talking to people who work out of the public eye in areas I know nothing about. So, I thought it would be interesting to talk to someone whose work is incredibly valuable to an end product I use most days – gasoline – but in an area I’m unfamiliar with.
Enter Marie-Claude Raymond, Senior Advisor, Fuel Quality at Suncor. The Fuel Quality team at Suncor (proud parent of Petro-Canada), as you would expect, ensures the quality of the end product – gasoline and other fuels – for customers. I sat down with Marie-Claude to ask her what that really means and what her day-to-day job entails.
PumpTalk: Marie-Claude, thank you for talking with me today! Tell me about the Fuel Quality group. What does your team do?
Marie-Claude Raymond: The Fuel Quality group ensures the quality of gasoline and other fuels for our customers. We are involved with everything that relates to fuel quality, including making sure new fuel-related products meet the expected quality and follow provincial and federal regulations. New products include things like renewable fuels (biodiesel and hydrotreated renewable diesel), as well as new fuel additives. We also monitor provincial and federal regulations in case anything changes that would impact our current products.
The team also fields requests from potential business customers, like municipal authorities, who want to start using renewable fuels for their fleets. And we support sales and marketing teams at Petro-Canada if they respond to a tender from these potential customers or need to review contracts.
And, we audit processes at the terminal to ensure the quality of the fuel is always maintained. If there is a question about fuel quality, we are the ones who conduct the investigations.
PT: Wow, that’s a lot of different skills! Did you have any special training?
MR: My background is in chemistry; I worked as a chemist in Suncor’s Montreal refinery lab for several years. All the work in the lab prepared me well for the move to the fuel quality team. It’s a very collaborative environment. It is important to be flexible because priorities can change quickly. We need to be able to work with different groups of people: supply chain, maintenance, customer service, sales, etc. Teamwork, good communication, and customer focus are very important aptitudes.
PT: You mentioned that one of the areas you’re responsible for is investigating fuel quality issues. How does an investigation come about? And what activities are part of the investigation?
MR: We don’t have a lot of quality investigations because our process for delivering fuel is so comprehensive. But, if there is one, typically customer service will have alerted us to a concern from a customer at a particular retail site. To conduct the investigation, we follow a very specific process to validate the quality of the fuel from the terminal where it originated to the retail location where the customer received the fuel. We make sure that the procedures in place to maintain the quality have been followed.
PT: If you do find any problems with the quality of fuel, where are they likely to be?
MR: Having water created through condensation in the tanks is the most likely problem area. It is best practice to keep tanks full, especially when seasons are changing. Plus, at our retail sites, we have filters and monitoring alarms on the tanks to detect water. Following the regulatory and safety processes as we move fuel from terminal to station is so important. It’s why, as a customer, you want to make sure that you purchase your gasoline from places where these processes are in place.
Marie-Claude – thank you so much for this peek behind-the-scenes at Petro-Canada’s Fuel Quality team! Are there any other areas you’d be interested in learning more about at Petro-Canada? Let us know in the comments!