First the good news for the AFL types, Peter Holmes a Court, Western Force, Sydney Kings basketballers and others who might be either giving money to or taking money from the strange Firepower organisation: Shell confirms it did some tests for them.

The bad news though is that Shell doesn’t agree with what Firepower claims the tests mean.

As we reported on 30 January, Firepower’s promise of a “stack of documents” proving its magic fuel pills and potions dramatically improve mileage really just came down to a single test carried out by a Shell laboratory in Germany. So we asked Shell to verify the claim and we’ve received the following reply:

We confirm that in January 2004, we did carry out tests for Firepower Wholesale Ltd, (parent company Chemical Trading Central Europe GmbH) , but we do not support the conclusions drawn by Firepower from these tests. As we respect client confidentiality, we are unable to disclose to Crikey what conclusions were drawn.

Well I have the rather clear impression that the conclusion Firepower wants to draw is that its diesel potion improved a truck’s mileage by 4%. If that was Firepower’s best shot, I didn’t think much of it – but Shell seems to think even less.

Folks might not like Shell when the petrol price at their local pump jumps around, but they do know a bit about fuel and how it works. If Shell doesn’t support Firepower’s conclusions drawn from that truck test, I don’t think I will either.

Which means we’re back to where we always thought we were. There’s a mysterious and suddenly high-profile outfit splashing around millions of dollars that allegedly come from simply unbelievable claims about dramatically improved fuel efficiency from popping a pill in your petrol tank.

There are also colourful eastern European business connections, $400,000 from Australian taxpayers and half a dozen former Austrade employees involved.

Some very public Australian figures and organisations are going along for the Firepower ride, while there’s been amazingly little scrutiny.

That’s still the biggest mystery – only the SMH and Crikey seem to care. Roll on the WA government tests.