It looks like it’ll be the first quarter of 2017 before we see the new API oil standard PC-11, according to Dan Arcy, global OEM technical manager for Shell Lubricants. Developing and validating tests to be used in the certification of oils in the new category took longer than expected.

To meet the expected greenhouse gas/fuel efficiency standards that the federal government is in the process of developing, oil companies and engine makers have been busy developing a new standard for engine oils that will provide low viscosity to improve engine efficiency.

Arcy says testing is now under way, and a lot of it — about 18 million miles worth — has already been completed. Shell has also finished 12 inspections of engines running on the new oil. He says that fleets are concerned about whether the new lower viscosity oil will protect their engines and about its durability, but he’s encouraged by what he has seen in the inspections. He thinks the oil will provide the protection and durability fleets need.

The new oil is expected to offer fuel economy reductions because it will take less energy to move the low-viscosity oil. How much is yet to be determined, but Arcy says fleets operating in stop and go service will likely see the most improvement since diesel engines operate more efficiently under lower loads.

One of the concerns with any new oil category is its backwards compatibility. Arcy says it is too early to tell whether the low-viscosity version of PC-11 will be backwards compatible and added that we are as much as a year away from being able to discern that.