Palm Beach Post: Shell, Texaco pump again as bad gas replaced
By Paul Owers, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 3, 2004
The last of the 420 Shell and Texaco gas stations in South Florida that sold sulfur-laden fuel reopened Wednesday.
All gas supplied by Motiva Enterprises for sale at Shell and Texaco stations in this area has been tested and approved. The contaminated gas also was sold in the New Orleans and Tampa regions.
"Everything is back to normal in all three areas," Shell spokesman Johan Zaayman said.
About 9,000 consumers in Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana filed claims as of Tuesday, saying that fuel from Shell or Texaco damaged their gas gauges. Zaayman said he could not confirm how many more claims were filed Wednesday.
Stations in South Florida stopped selling regular and mid-grade gasoline Friday and sold premium gasoline at the price of regular. Other stations stopped gas sales altogether.
Most of the affected stations reopened during the Memorial Day weekend. The final 80 or so reopened Wednesday.
Motiva said the problem originated at its refinery in Norco, La.
Too much sulfur can corrode the wire that runs from the car's gas tank to the gauge, causing it to read the level of gas incorrectly. The contaminated fuel also could damage a car's fuel pump, fuel injector or fuel filter.
Repair bills could reach $700 or more, mechanics say.
Gabriel Hernandez, co-owner of Palmis Tire & Auto Center in West Palm Beach, said he filled up at a local Shell station, then saw his gas gauge go to empty in less than 24 hours.
One of his customers has three cars with similar problems.
"I've got a feeling it's affected a lot of people," Hernandez said.