Compensation over sulphuric fuel

Z petrol stations are among those affected by the sulphuric fuel. - Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

Hundreds of car owners left with empty tanks after being given low-quality petrol will be in line for compensation.

Some batches of 91 and 95 petrol sold by BP, Z Energy and Mobil between late November and mid-December last year had elevated sulphur levels.

This caused fuel guages to show levels higher than what they actually were, and now fuel companies are scrambling to find out what happened.

César Lador says he’s not happy with how the situation was handled.

He was travelling with his young family from Bethells Beach to Auckland city when his Mazda suddenly cut out two weeks ago.

"We had to hitchhike back home and call the AA from there because there was no cellphone reception."

César says the AA came straightaway, and despite the fuel tank showing at the quarter mark, he was told it was empty.

"If it’s because it’s the fuel quality it’s really unacceptable because it’s putting people at risk."

Auckland man Luke, who did not want his surname used, says the problem had caused issues for his Chrysler Grand Voyager which was no longer accurately reading fuel levels.

"It will always show we’ve got about a third of a tank. My wife has come home with our four kids before and the car has cut out in the driveway and we’ve had to take a hike up the road to get some gas for it."

He says he’s annoyed that Z Energy, where he buys his fuel, did not alert customers on social media.

Z Energy says it’s investigating 20 cases so far. Mobil and BP did not have numbers to share. The fuel companies said they would compensate anyone who had been affected.

About 120 Holden vehicles have been found to have been affected so far. Some Mazda and Kia vehicles were also been affected, but it was unclear how many.

The alarm was first raised with the Motor Industry Association in early December after it received complaints, says chief executive David Crawford.

"There’s a lot of testing that goes on to make sure the fuel is the right quality," he said.

"So I still haven’t had an explanation as to what went wrong this time when the batch came through with the slightly elevated sulphur levels."

Most of the fuel in question came from Refining NZ’s plant in Whangarei, and was sent down the now infamous fuel pipeline to a storage facility in Wiri, South Auckland.

Refining NZ said the fuel was tested before it was sent, and was given the all clear. When the problem was raised, they tested samples which came back clear.

BP spokesperson Leigh Taylor says on behalf of all three fuel companies that their investigation could take some time.

"The supply chain is quite complex and there’s a number of sources of fuel that each of us individually bring into the country.

"We’d need to explore that and the shared storage as well, and look into exactly where the issue could have occurred."

The AA says it experienced a spike in callouts from people who had run out of fuel in Auckland. Some people in Whangarei and the Bay of Plenty could have been affected.



Posted on 23-01-2018 19:19 | By Capt_Kaveman

are scam artists and i never go there anyway, people should do some research like i did 10 years ago and never use them again

Lay a compalint

Posted on 23-01-2018 14:22 | By Iddy

We were effected by this just after Xmas here in Papamoa, had to get AA out and found out on a really hot day with our daughter in the car. AA said it was due to running out of petrol. The petrol gauge in the car showed as being 3/4 empty. We are/were saving to get the petrol sensor looked at and fixed. This explains it all now! Any idea who we get in touch with to get refunded and lay a complaint.


Posted on 23-01-2018 13:28 | By clingon

I’d like to know the technical reason for wrong fuel readings. The cars that i have had have used a float connected to a variable resistance device as a fuel gauge in the fuel tank. Is this a mechanical issue ie did the sulfur gum up the pivot mechanism or is it an electrical problem? I’ve never heard of this before but it would certainly appear to give your Holden great fuel mileage...

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