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Sulfur-removal Units Blamed For Tainted Shell Gasoline In La.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Sulfur-removal Units Blamed For Tainted Gasoline In La.

“Shell now says the tainted fuel also contained hydrogen sulfide, an extremely corrosive compound that occurs naturally in unrefined crude oil.”

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

September 3, 2004 10:14 a.m.

NORCO, La. (AP)–A pair of units designed to remove sulfur from gasoline at a New Orleans-area refinery are being blamed for creating sulfur-tainted gasoline in May,

The bad gasoline damaged more than 80,000 fuel gauges in cars and trucks in Louisiana and Florida.

Shell Oil (RD) Products spokesman Shawn Frederick says the units began operating about two weeks before motorists started reported fuel gauge problems. The units were installed at the Motiva refinery in Norco to meet new federal environmental regulations that limit sulfur levels in gasoline to 30 parts per million, down from the current standard of 300 parts per million. The new rules go into effect Jan. 1.

Shell now says the tainted fuel also contained hydrogen sulfide, an extremely corrosive compound that occurs naturally in unrefined crude oil.

More than 200 gas stations, mostly operating under the Shell, Texaco and Chevron brands, sold the bad fuel in the New Orleans area and portions of Florida in May.

Frederick says Shell has processed about 53,000 broken fuel gauge claims in Louisiana and about 28,000 in Florida. There’s no word on how much it cost the company to repair the gauges.

Frederick says it’s unknown why the units malfunctioned. He says one has been modified and returned to operation, while the other remains off-line awaiting repairs.

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