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Shell New Zealand Warns Of Diesel Quality Problems

25 May 2001

Shell New Zealand said today it has become aware of a problem with New Zealand Refining Company refined diesel, which can result in the blocking of the fuel filters of diesel engines.

Petrol is not affected.

NZRC General Manager, Alan Davey, said that other than the fact that the fuel was likely to block filters, there was no immediate issue of safety involved. The symptoms of the filter blockage are rougher running, loss of power and eventual stopping. Most users should be able to continue to use existing fuel stocks although more frequent filter replacements are necessary.

Shell Retail manager, Steve Foster, said that some categories of users, such as marine and vital services, should exercise particular care. As a precaution, all Shell marinas have been temporarily closed until further notice.

Mr Foster said that the refinery was working closely with Shell and other oil companies to fully assess the situation and formulate the best solutions. In the meantime, he said, he wanted to ensure that all diesel users were aware of the problem.

He said the problem has arisen since Winter grade diesel has been put into the market, in April of this year.

Clogged diesel filter problems appear to be more common in the South Island – where a higher concentration of their additive was used in the diesel fuel. The product has been supplied throughout the country.

NZRC is working to get replacement diesel stocks into the distribution system as quickly as possible.

Shell have set up 0800 information line and anyone with concerns should contact the
0800 4 SHELL ( 0800 474 355 ).


Q & A's for Diesel Vehicle, Boat and Stationary Machinery Owners

1. Should I keep driving ?

Yes - continue to use your vehicle. But at the first signs of rough running, power loss or hard starting - seek advice from a diesel mechanic or workshop.

2. Should I keep filling up?

Yes - but see the advice in (1).

3. Where do I get further advice?

From a diesel mechanic or workshop or ring your fuel supplier's 0800 numbers
listed at the end of these questions and answers.

4. How long does it take for filters to clog?

It depends on several factors such as your diesel consumption, the diesel supply
in your area, and when you last changed your fuel filter.

You should look out for the symptoms outlined above and if they occur, get your vehicle checked.

5. Will this damage my engine?

Engine damage is unlikely, but it is important to seek advice from your mechanic as soon as the symptoms develop.

6. Will I get compensation for problems caused by the diesel?

Yes - the cost of any filter replacement will be met.

7. Are there safety problems?

We recommend that you follow these safety tips;

* Only use diesel, do not attempt to use an alternative fuel in your vehicle
* Do not attempt to clean the fuel filters. Replace them with new filters
* If you are driving into remote locations, consider how you will get assistance should a problem arise.
* If your boat operates on diesel, have it serviced before you go and consider how you will get assistance should problems arise.

8. Has this problem occurred elsewhere?

At this stage we are only aware of this problem with diesel sourced from Marsden Point Refinery. Around 90% of New Zealand's diesel comes from the refinery.

9. How long have the oil companies and the refinery known about this problem?

After a pattern of customer complaints to the oil companies were reported to the refinery on Wednesday, testing commenced immediately. A decision to change the production method was made today following completion of testing.

10. When will the new diesel be available?

New diesel is now being produced at the refinery. However, it will take some weeks to be fully distributed throughout New Zealand.

0800 Numbers for Customer queries.

Shell: 0800 4 Shell

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