Cooks company halts diesel sales after faulty fuel find
Cook Islands company halts sales of its diesel after the fuel found to be high in sulphur and potentially damaging for modern pickup trucks.
A Cook Islands petroleum company has put sales of its diesel on hold after the newly-imported fuel was found to contain more than 100 times the amount of sulphur expected.
The company has been selling the marine-grade diesel since December, after it was brought in primarily for the Chinese fishing fleet in the area.
The director of Toa Petroleum, Brett Porter, says a New Zealand consultant checked the sulphur levels for the company to see if it was suitable for retail sale but made a miscalculation.
Mr Porter told Amelia Langford the fuel could potentially cause damage to modern diesel pickup trucks.
Brett Porter: We knew it was marine-grade diesel. We didn't realise that the sulphur levels were as high as they were. We asked for advice from a consulting engineer in New Zealand who consults to the petroleum industry as to whether or not the fuel would be suitable for use with modern diesel vehicles. He assured us that it was and that the levels were in fact 57 parts per million of sulphur and we found that wasn't the case - we found that out last week on Wednesday - and we found that it was 100 times more than that. It is perfectly suited for the marine industry and the bulk of the fuel is for the Chinese fishing fleet but it is being used here for the inter-island shipping services and the heavy equipment contractors. Very little of this volume goes into the modern vehicles but we have suggested to people that they stop using this, stop putting it in those vehicles, and we are bringing a shipment that arrives here in four days time of the ten parts per million diesel that is better suited to those vehicles.
AMELIA LANGFORD: So how did you find out that it had such a high quantity of sulphur in it?
BP: The Ministry of Internal Affairs here asked for a separate assessment of the sulphur content and they advised us.
AL: So it can cause a bit of damage to cars, is that right?
BP: Well, it could. Our advice from mechanics here is that there would be little or no damage for cars that have only been using it for a short period of time. We have only been selling it since the first week of December and we've been assured that there would be minimal damage, if any, over a period of time using that diesel. We are rectifying the problem by stopping the sale to the modern vehicles. They can get the fuel that is required from other petrol stations here and I would imagine that is what people are doing.
AL: Have people been a bit panicky about what this might do to their cars?
BP: Well, noone has panicked to me. The effect is only on modern diesel pickups. The older diesel vehicles are not affected - it's the modern ones with catalytic converters on and I haven't had anyone complain to me about it and I am hoping that we don't have to address the issue of fixing someone's truck but if that is required we will do that of course.
Brett Porter says the New Zealand consultant is highly embarrassed by his mistake.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: