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Govt keeping close watch on diesel problem

Monday, 28 May 2001 Media Statement

Govt keeping close watch on diesel problem


Energy Minister Pete Hodgson says he is concerned at the possible economic and safety problems arising from faulty diesel and the Government is monitoring the situation closely.

Mr Hodgson, Associate Energy Minister Paul Swain and Transport Minister Mark Gosche were briefed this morning by executives of the New Zealand Refining Company and major oil companies.

The refinery has identified problems with an additive mixed with diesel to improve fuel flow in cold conditions. The ministers were told that undissolved quantities of the additive can block fuel filters, causing diesel engines to run rough or stop.

The refinery has stopped using the additive and is maximising production and distribution of unmodified fuel, but supplies of the treated fuel have been shipped throughout New Zealand and may not be used up for about a month.

"The main safety concern is with marine users, especially small commercial fishing boats and the like," Mr Hodgson said. "If they decide to go to sea they should ensure they carry spare filters, know how to change them and stay in regular communication. If vessels already at sea encounter problems they should replace filters and consider returning to port."

The oil companies are removing treated diesel from marine supply points. Mr Hodgson said he had been assured that oil company staff will be checking, before selling any fresh fuel, that boat operators are able to handle any fuel problems.

"Diesel vehicle operators should also take care to have their vehicles checked at any sign of trouble," Mr Hodgson said.

"So far the problem seems to be moderate rather than severe, with most diesel vehicles and boats continuing to function. However I will be watching the management of this issue very closely and have called for a further briefing from the industry at 8.00pm today. I expect the industry to keep the public informed in an open and timely manner."


ENDS

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