Fuel Fiasco

June 30, 2011 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s petroleum industries minister has rejected allegations the government imported low quality petrol, saying motorists whose vehicles were damaged had been supplied fuel contaminated by rain and dregs. Susil Premajayantha said motorists who could prove they had been supplied contaminated fuel would be given compensation.

He rejected allegations the state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation had imported low quality fuel which had been blamed for damaging vehicles and petrol pumps, saying imports had been tested and found to be of the required standard.

But anyone found responsible for importing low quality fuel would be punished, Premajayantha told a news conference.

He said the CPC had been forced to make emergency purchases of petrol after a surge in demand during a recent holiday period which forced retailers to draw down storage tanks almost to the bottom.

Sediment at the bottom of the tanks had got mixed with new fuel that was pumped in while in some outlets rain water had seeped in, Premajayantha said.

Premajayantha said the government got about 125 complaints of pumps being damaged at fuel retail outlets and complaints of damage to hybrid vehicles, motorcycles and cars in man