Sinopec station's watery diesel blamed for string of damaged trucks

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 January, 2014, 11:26am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 January, 2014, 5:55pm

Diesel sold at a petrol station owned by China Petrochemical Corporation (Sinopec), the country’s largest refiner, has been found to contain water 40 times more than the national limit, causing thousands of yuan worth of damage to trucks.

Among those affected was Gao Zhanjun, from Shangzi city in in southeast Heilongjiang province, told China Central Television (CCTV) that his truck broke down 130 kilometres after he refuelled at a Sinopec gas station in Shan last October.

Two months later, a test by the Heilongjiang standards watchdog confirmed the fuel sample contained 0.2 per cent of water – exceeding the national limit of 0.005 per cent.

Gao said he spent 258,000 yuan (HK$328,000) on repairs before mechanics suspected the problem was caused by the fuel.

“Later, the repair worker released about 5kg of water from the fuel-water separator,” Gao told CCTV, adding that at least five drivers he knew had similar problems after refuelling at the gas station.

However, when Shangzi Industry and Commerce Administration officials visited the petrol station to investigate, the contentious #0 diesel product was no longer on sale. Instead, the officials were only able to sample another type of diesel that works in lower temperatures.

It was unclear what caused the excess water to be mixed into the diesel.

Too much water in diesel can cause severe problems with water separators and can cause fuel injector tips to explode. It can also lead to a sudden cooling in the engine or shortened engine life.

A vice-director with the Shangzi commerce administration said Gao was not entitled to seek compensation because of limitations in their Sinopec diesel test.

The official added that the team reported the “sensitive” case to authorities in Harbin, the capital city of Heilongjiang, which could impose an administrative fine on the station.

An unnamed official with Sinopec’s Shangzhi branch asked CCTV not to report the case because “it would have a negative impact on the company”, according to the report.