An investigation into complaints of poor fuel quality in Grand Cayman is focusing on the two major oil suppliers, according to the Cayman Islands’ oil and gas regulator, the Petroleum Inspectorate.
“Our current focus is on gasoline for the retail network [gas stations] that is imported through the current established channel, which is via the two major oil companies,” said Duke Munroe, the chief petroleum inspector.
Mr. Munroe said the inspectorate has “occasionally” been receiving complaints about suspected poor fuel quality, but that in June and thereafter there was a “relative increase in the number of calls.”
“Callers did indicate their vehicles sustained damages which they [referring to the callers] claimed/indicated was attributed to fuel quality issues,” Mr. Munroe said. “We are currently investigating. It entails verifying the fuel speculation of the current stock, identifying possible sources of local contamination and also reviewing the integrity of fueling equipment at the gas stations.”
Mr. Munroe said the inspectorate would make its findings public when appropriate. The chief inspector did note that the possibility of local contamination, for example, water getting into the gas tanks at petrol stations, was “not likely.”
“Systems, once functioning properly, such as good tank installation practices and filters, are in place at the gas stations to significantly reduce the possibility of water getting into vehicle tanks,” he said.
The Caymanian Compass contacted and received responses, from both major fuel suppliers to the islands, RUBIS and Esso.
Dustin Kersey of RUBIS-Caribbean said there had been a lot of discussion about local fuel quality in Cayman of late and that some of the “discussion points” were misleading.
“RUBIS fuels distributed and sold in the Cayman Islands are sourced in the United States Gulf Coast area and the RUBIS technology has U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approvals,” Mr. Kersey said. “RUBIS does not use any additives or components that are prohibited in the U.S.
“In the case of gasolines, our Ultra Tech gasolines meet the top tier cleanliness standards and provide significant protection against harmful deposits and maintain the engines’ running at their highest level of performance.”
There has been some discussion that the local petrol stations do not use ethanol additives, which many newer model cars are engineered to use. Mr. Kersey denied this was an issue.
“RUBIS only uses ethanol in jurisdictions where it is mandated to do so, as the addition of ethanol to gasolines does not provide any performance benefit,” he said.
Esso Country Manager Alan Neesome said there are specific issues that make ethanol “a less preferred and more costly” fuel option for the Cayman Islands market, mostly due to technical logistics and climate.
Mr. Neesome said Esso does not reveal proprietary fuel formulations, but said the company does use certain additives in its conventional gasoline to boost octane performance.
“The fuels that Esso imports into the Cayman Islands meet or exceed all original equipment manufacturers’ recommendations for octane, including those for premium octane quality requirement vehicles,” Mr. Neesome said. “Esso’s fuel grades meet these requirements and are suitable for vehicles of any age.”
Mr. Neesome noted that all manufacturers’ recommendations for vehicles and fuels are posted on or near the gas cap, as well as in the vehicle owner handbook.
“Previous government test results have confirmed the excellent quality of Esso fuels,” Mr. Neesome said.
Over the past couple of years, there have been a handful of local business interests that have imported their own fuels for various uses. Some of this fuel is now sold for retail in various locations.
Mr. Munroe said the petroleum inspectorate had been made aware of that recently and were looking into the safety aspect of the importation and usage. Warnings were sent out last year about the storage and handling of fuels in the Cayman Islands by the inspectorate in response to the importation.
The Caymanian Compass has contacted several individuals involved in the fuel importation and sale from alternate locations. However, none of those individuals wanted to speak on the record with the newspaper.