My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: @StandardsJa closes 17 Gas Stations as Bad Gasolene testing expands

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

@StandardsJa closes 17 Gas Stations as Bad Gasolene testing expands

“We are quite clear that we have a responsibility to protect our consumers, and once it is determined that players in the industry are involved wittingly or unwittingly in contaminated products being put on the market, we're going to ensure that we stop it and there are a number of things that we can do [including] revoke licences”

Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell during a meeting that was hastily arranged at the New Kingston headquarters of the Ministry

Well it looks like I was wrong about nothing coming out of the BSJ and Petrojam Bad Gasolene Report. Then again, I might be right and this is all just a charade.

Seventeen (17) Gas Station have been closed as of 12 am on Wednesday December 29th 2015 as reported in the article “Police Called In; 17 Gas Stations Ordered Shut Down By Midnight Yesterday”, Published Wednesday December 30, 2015, by Neville Graham, The Jamaica Gleaner

Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell made this disclosure during a hastily arranged meeting at the New Kingston headquarters of the Ministry on Tuesday December 29th 2015 at 5 pm.

Good to note here that the PCJ (Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica) did not close the seventeen (17) gas stations. That was done by the BSJ under the authority of the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining as noted in the tweet by PCJ ‏@PetroleumCorpJa:

Also PCJ & Petrojam are not the same company; PCJ owns 51% of Petrojam in a joint venture with Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) as per the tweet by PCJ ‏@PetroleumCorpJa  below:

These Seventeen (17) Gas Stations are located in the parishes that I'd specified in my blog article entitled “BSJ and Petrojam Bad Gasolene Report – Who was selling Bad Gasolene, the contaminant and its source”.

The number of Gas Stations in each of those parishes that were selling contaminated Gasolene as listed in the article “Gov't Orders Closure Of Petrol Pumps At 17 Stations Over Bad Gas”, Published Tuesday December 29, 2015, The Jamaica Gleaner is as follows:

1.      7 in Kingston and St Andrew 
2.      3 in St James 
3.      3 in Clarendon 
4.      2 in Manchester 
5.      2 in St Catherine
6.      1 in St Thomas 

The names and locations of these Seventeen (17) Gas Stations has not been disclosed. But as these Gas Stations are being closed by the Jamaica Police, by the morning motorists all over of Jamaica will know which Gas Stations were in the report. This might lead to some altercation at these Gas Stations, so expect the employees to not only not report to work at these Gas Stations but protestors to start gathering, seeking compensation.

The service station operators will also be facing criminal investigation from the Jamaican Police to quote Minister Paulwell: “The Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency of the Jamaica Constabulary Force has been contacted and they were present today in our briefing, and 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”.

This as the number of closures could increase as the BSJ inspectors are still conducting tests, to quote Minister Paulwell: “The inspectors of the Bureau of Standards will now intensify their testing across the island. The dispensing of contaminated E10 90 and E10 87 gasolene will be prohibited where they have been found”.

However, reopening seems to be a possibility as soon as they can prove that they are on the level it seems, as Minister Paulwell points out: “The Bureau will be utilising the powers that it has to ensure that these stations will not be selling those products for the time being, until the proprietors can indicate to the Bureau of Standards, which will have to be verified by further testing that the products meet specifications”.

More Gas Stations to be closed as tests ongoing – Gum named as a possible contaminant

So aside from not revealing who the service station operators are or their location, there is also no word on the contaminant or its sources, as this was not revealed!

Instead it appears they collected forty five (45) samples so far. Of that number, only (30) samples had been tested and according to the BSJ Chairman Dr Winston Davidson, the majority of them were contaminated, quote: “Of the 30 samples, 25 - or 83 per cent - were found to be non-compliant or, in fact, contaminated”.

Assuming one (1) sample per Gas Station, the Seventeen (17) Gas Stations are among the twenty five (25) or 83% that tested positive for this as-yet named contaminant. That means eight (8) have not been listed to be closed tonight.

No reason was given for why this was so. So far BSJ testing of Clarendon, Manchester and Westmoreland Gas Stations is complete, with Kingston, St Thomas, St Mary, St Ann and Hanover are to be finished by Wednesday December 30th 2015. Testing of the major importers would not be completed until Saturday January 2nd, 2015.

Also a gel adhesive or gum is being identified as one of the contaminants as reported in the article “Gas pumps ordered closed at 17 service stations”, published Wednesday, December 30, 2015, The Jamaica Observer.

However, the composition of this gel adhesive was not revealed, or how it managed to get into the service station operators storage tanks without being noticed by BSJ Inspectors.  This suggests that the contaminant could have been introduced at any point in the Gasolene Trade, making it difficult to assign blame.

 Government seems to be protecting service station operators – Tighter regulation of Gasolene Trade coming

So now we have a mystery; Seventeen (17) out of twenty five (25) Gas Stations closed, their names cannot be revealed, most likely for legal reasons and the contaminant is unknown.

I'm still saying its homemade gasolene made via vacuum pyrolysis of rubber and plastic that has too much sulphur or other gasoline soluble salt contaminants in it as explained in my blog article entitled “BSJ and Petrojam investigating contaminated Gasoline in Jamaica - Why Homemade Gasoline is to blame”. 

Even more troubling is that the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, BSJ or Petrojam is not revealing how to make the contaminated gasolene usable again as well as compensation for damaged vehicles. However, he’s promised traceability of the Gasolene trade i.e. tracking devices on tankers, computerized receipts at ever point, from importer to Gas Station.

Seems like the Government, for some strange reason, is trying to protect the service station operators, as no word seems to be emerging as to how Jamaica motorists are to be compensated for damage to their vehicles!

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