Citgo Petroleum Corp. and Florida officials have issued a warning regarding potential fuel contamination at stations supplied by Citgo’s Tampa, Florida terminal. This comes as citizens in the area prepare for an approaching hurricane expected to hit the Gulf Coast later this week.
Concerns Ahead of Tropical Storm Idalia
Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, expressed his concern about the timing of this incident, particularly with Tropical Storm Idalia approaching. He highlighted the significance of Tampa’s large port, which receives a substantial amount of fuel for the state of Florida, making this contamination issue a major headache.
Discovery of Contaminated Product
In a press release on Sunday, Citgo revealed that it had discovered a “product routing issue” at its Tampa terminal on Saturday, resulting in contaminated fuel. Citgo promptly notified all marketers who lifted gasoline and diesel from the terminal between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., instructing them to cease sales. The company is working diligently to remove the contaminated product from the affected retail locations.
Widespread Fuel Contamination
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) also issued a statement on Sunday, confirming the discovery of potentially widespread fuel contamination. The contamination was attributed to human error at the Port of Tampa. FDACS has provided a list of stations that may have been impacted and cautioned that any fuel purchased from these stations after 10 a.m. on Saturday, August 26 carries a high likelihood of contamination with diesel fuel.
Rare Occurrence with Potential Liabilities
While situations like this are rare, they pose a significant problem for retailers selling contaminated fuel. However, Citgo will likely be held liable, meaning that any necessary repairs will be covered. On a positive note, once the contaminated fuel is collected, it can be re-separated into usable products through the re-refining process rather than being discarded.
The focus now lies on resolving this issue promptly and ensuring the availability of clean fuel for the citizens preparing for the impending hurricane.
What Happens to My Car?
If your vehicle is affected by contaminated fuel, it may experience engine issues, depending on the level of contamination, says De Haan.
The ratio of contamination is unknown – whether it was 100% diesel fuel or simply contaminated with diesel – but people will generally notice engine and drivability issues due to the contamination.
If you have been impacted, it is advised to stop driving immediately and have your vehicle towed to a mechanic. The mechanic may choose to drain the tank, but in general, this should not be a catastrophic issue. However, it is a significant inconvenience.
The FDACS has established a consumer hotline for receiving complaints from affected consumers. To file a complaint, call 1-800-HELP-FLA or visit the website fdacs.gov.
Citgo has also provided an avenue for consumers who believe they purchased contaminated fuel to initiate a claim through its Citgo Good Gas Guarantee program at Citgo Contact Us.
Unfortunately, the issue of contaminated fuel couldn’t have arisen at a worse time.
With many people evacuating the area, it is certainly an unfavorable situation, according to De Haan.
As of Monday morning, Tropical Storm Idalia was expected to move over the extreme southeastern Gulf of Mexico by early Tuesday and reach the Gulf Coast of Florida on Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm is forecasted to strengthen into a hurricane and become a dangerous major hurricane over the northeastern Gulf of Mexico by early Wednesday.