Jamaica government orders closure of pumps at 17 gas stations selling bad fuel

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KINGSTON, Jamaica, Thursday December 31, 2015 – The Energy Ministry has ordered 17 gas stations across the country to shut off their pumps after tests showed they had been selling contaminated gas. And the Major Organized and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) has been instructed to investigate further.

“They will be engaged to do further investigation in terms of illegal trading of petroleum products and to ensure that the law is properly enforced,” he said.

Samples of grades E10 90 and E10 87 fuel were taken from several service stations between December 22 and 24 and a contaminant known as gum was discovered. The 17 gas stations were not named.

The ministry said that in order to safeguard consumers against petroleum industry players who either wittingly or unwittingly sell contaminated fuel products, the identified pumps had to be closed.

“We are going to ensure we stop it . . . In instances, I will revoke permits. We are about to implement 100 per cent testing of all fuel imports coming into Jamaica,” said Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell at a press conference on Tuesday.

He added that other measures to be taken by the ministry will involve monitoring, and auditing of the petroleum trade.

“Going forward, we are going to require that every single person who comes in contact with this trade be required to keep proper accounting information that will be subject to auditing, so that we can trace the product from importation or delivery at the loading rack to the market,” he explained.

Substantial legislative changes are also in the works and will include significant increases in general fines and imprisonment of offenders.

Paulwell said Cabinet approved drafting instructions for the law to be modified nine months ago.

“What we are doing now is to complete the process and add new features. We are increasing the applicability of the Act to the now nine stakeholders,” the minister said.

“Mandatory inspections of service stations at the issuing of licences and at intervals thereafter are also scheduled to take place. Marketing companies will also be required to submit reports on the movement of each tanker truck utilized to haul petroleum products.”

The results of the petrol samples are to be handed over to MOCA.

“They will be engaged to do further investigation in terms of illegal trading of petroleum products and to ensure that the law is properly enforced,”the minister said.

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Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Minister Phillip Paulwell (centre), in discussion with President of the Jamaica Gasolene Retailers Association, Leonard Green (right). Looking on is State Minister in the Ministry, Julian Robinson. (Photo: JIS)

 

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ), Professor Winston Davidson, said the sampling was done exclusively by scientists from the BSJ and there was no collusion with Petrojam Limited, a limited liability company jointly owned by PDVCaribe and the state-owned Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica.

“Every sample was coded, so nobody in Petrojam was able to tell where these samples came from. A member of our scientific community was there while the tests were carried out until the end and we took those results to the Bureau,” he said.

He added that the BSJ opted to present the first set of final results in the interest of the public, at Paulwell’s insistence, although testing was still being done islandwide.

“Our sampling is now islandwide and we should be ready with the results in short order,” Davidson said.

The tests were carried out after consumers complained of bad gas that was causing damage to their vehicles.

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