'CPC trying to damage more Petrol engines': Former Chairman, CPC
by S. TALPAHEWA Former Chairman/ Managing Director, Ceylon Petroleum Corporation
Nov 7, 2011

I refer to the advertisement published by the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) on several newspapers inviting bids for the sale of “2600 metric tonnes of Gasoline 90 octane presently stored at the Kolonnawa Oil Installation”. From the specifications of the Gasoline in these advertisements, it can be inferred that it is the remaining quantity of the off-specification gasoline (92 unleaded petrol), recently imported and distributed throughout the country by CPC which caused several thousands of motor vehicles to stall on the roads with resultant malfunctioning engines, that the CPC, of course with the blessings of the recently appointed Cabinet Sub Committee, is now attempting to release to the market!

“SALE OF GASOLINE 90 OCTANE (PETROL)”, as stated in the said advertisement, implies that the petrol is of merchantable quality and can be used in gasoline driven motor vehicles. The unsuitability of the product has been willingly or wittingly suppressed by the CPC, to say the least, it is unethical of CPC, (virtually the sole importer of petroleum products to the country) to mislead the public.

The Minister of Petroleum Industries openly promised to compensate those motorists who were affected by using low quality petrol and to take disciplinary action against officials responsible for import and also to take action against the suppliers and claim the loss to CPC. The Minister had thus accepted responsibility for importing the gasoline in question from Emirates National Oil Company, Singapore and the release of the product to the market.

The specifications of the off-specification gasoline, as shown in the said advertisement, clearly indicated that, contrary to what the Deputy Minister said, CPC had deliberately imported and distributed the off-specification gasoline island-wide.

According to the said advertisement, CPC proposes to release 2600 metric tonnes, i.e., approximately 3,500,000 litres, of off-specification gasoline to the market, this time not through its dealer network, but by unconventional means. This is the first time in the fifty-year history of CPC that an attempt of this nature had been made to release low quality petrol to the market. I am making these comments in the interest of the CPC as the advertisement at issue had “per se” given a “carte blanche” to the successful buyers of the off-specification gasoline to sell at ease. Another possibility is that some unscrupulous CPC dealers themselves can make use of the opportunity to contaminate the gasoline they legally buy from the CPC with the off-specification gasoline so released to the market and cheat the unsuspecting motorists, who depend on the integrity of the CPC.

Obviously as a result of the recently infamous “Petrol Fiasco” the Cabinet had appointed a Cabinet Sub Committee comprising five Ministers to “oversee fuel imports and distribution” in the country, presumably because the Government had lost confidence in the incumbent CPC management to discharge its statutory obligations in the interest of the CPC in particular and the country as a whole. The Cabinet Sub Committee will have to be held fully responsible for the release of any petroleum product to the market whether contaminated, off-specifications or otherwise.

In releasing this off-specification gasoline to the market in this manner, CPC may have gained a negligible amount in rupees but the damage it can cause to the image of the company, both nationally and internationally, is immeasurable. I am reminded of that adage “penny wise and pound foolish”.

In my view the Cabinet Sub Committee had failed in its responsibilities and/or duties in authorizing the release of the remaining balance of the off-specification gasoline. This is a case where too many cooks are spoiling the soup.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka