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Full probe now under way to unearth source of bad gas

Published:Wednesday | December 23, 2015 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell
Julian Robinson

THE BUREAU of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) and the state-owned Petrojam oil refinery yesterday started a major probe into allegations of substandard gas that has been distributed by petrol stations across the country, leaving some motorists incensed as they dig deep into their pockets to repair damaged vehicles.

Julian Robinson, state minister in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, who has been given the task of leading a team of regulators and industry stakeholders to investigate the incidence of bad gas in the market, said the ministry would be in a position to submit its findings next week.

Robinson said that gasolene samples were taken from petrol stations yesterday in order to determine the extent of the problem in the petroleum market.

Robinson told The Gleaner that his ministry had received anecdotal information about the bad gas, which has been affecting motor vehicles with fuel-injection systems.

The state minister said that the probe was seeking to determine where in the distribution chain the contaminated gas entered the market.

"The reality is that some stations may not know that they are selling contaminated gas because if gas is delivered to you from marketing company 'X', you would expect that this gas meets certain quality standards. You may have cases where persons, unwittingly, are selling contaminated gas," Robinson said.

On the question of redress for consumers who have purchased contaminated gas, Robinson said it would be difficult at this stage to determine who in the distribution chain is liable.

"I can't say at this point what redress would be available to persons who have been affected, but I think first, we have to get to the bottom of the problem and determine where it is at," he added.

Yesterday, head of the Jamaica Gasolene Retailers' Association Leonard Green said he was concerned about reports of contaminated petrol on the market.

Green said that members of his association had confirmed that tests were carried out at their petrol stations yesterday.

A statement from the energy ministry said that at least one major car dealer had reported incidents of engine damage, while the Consumer Affairs Commission had confirmed receiving complaints.

Robinson and his team have also been given the responsibility of examining the protocols and regulations governing the petroleum trade, including the importation, transportation, and quality control of the product, and of making recommendations relevant to effective monitoring and enforcement.