Strain: Exxon’s bad fuel totals 5M gallons

By By The Associated Press

BATON ROUGE — More than 5 million gallons of gasoline shipped from the ExxonMobil Baton Rouge terminal in mid-March was tainted

by something that’s causing the intake and valve systems of vehicles to gum up, a state official said.

Mike Strain, Louisiana’s Commissioner

of Agriculture and Forestry, said he’s been speaking with Exxon

officials since late

Wednesday about the bad fuel. He told The Advocate Thursday that

the problem is contained to two batches of gasoline — a total

of 120,000 barrels — shipped between March 12 and March 15. One

barrel contains 42 gallons of gas.

“What we think is something got in the fuel that shouldn’t have gotten in,” Strain said.

Agents from the Department of

Agriculture and Forestry’s weights and measures division are testing

gasoline from several Baton

Rouge gas stations for a variety of things, from sulphur content

to octane to flash point in an attempt to find out what the

substance is.

ExxonMobil said it is working with Exxon-branded stations and other wholesale fuel customers to ensure a continued supply

of fuel for motorists.

“We are taking this matter seriously and are investigating the issue to determine the cause,” the company said in a brief

statement, adding, “We are working in close cooperation and communication with regulatory and local officials.”

The company also directed anyone with questions about fuel purchased in the Baton Rouge area to call the ExxonMobil North

America Customer Care center at 855-300-2659.

The president of a Baton Rouge automotive shop said Thursday he’s seen “40 or 50” cases in the past week of motorists getting

bad fuel.

Louis Altazan of AGCO Automotive, a

maintenance and repair business, said drivers have come in with

complaints about their

vehicles not starting right in the morning. Altazan said

complaints have come from people who bought gas at a number of different

stations, as far away as New Orleans and Slidell.

Exxon makes gasoline for a number of other companies at its Baton Rouge refinery, not just for stations that carry its brand

name — blending the fuel to the specifications of a gasoline distributor, Altazan said.

“It’s a cocktail,” he said.

Altazan said he thinks the problem may have to do with some incompatibility in the chemicals in the gasoline.