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Gas station owner could be charged

By Carolyn Kissoon

The owner of a service station in Fyzabad can be charged with attempting to export diesel, a subsidised product, if evidence is found of wrongdoing.

The owner is also being investigated in connection with the sale of an illegal low-density mixture of fuel to customers. And an alleged blending plant, used to mix condensate with fuel, was discovered on property belonging to the owner of the service station. The Express was told there was evidence that the service station was invovled in an attempt to smuggle diesel to other islands.

Minister of Energy Kevin Ramnarine said yesterday that the service station will remain closed, as investigations are continuing.

Last week, Energy Ministry officials shut down the service station, alleging that customers were being sold fuel mixed with condensate, which can lead to engine malfunction.

A customer, who contacted the Express, said that within an hour of filling his tank at the service station, his car stalled. The customer said the fuel caused damage estimated at more than $4,000 to his engine.

"I was driving up the highway with my family when the car just cut off on me. I have never experienced trouble with my engine before putting that fuel in the tank," he said.

A contractor employed with the Ministry pumped out the fuel and discarded illegal storage containers found on the compound of the Fyzabad service station.

The fuel was transported to National Petroleum (NP) Ltd, where laboratory tests will be conducted. The results would determine whether the service station is shut down indefinitely.

The Express was told that machinery was also seized from the alleged blending plant found hidden behind a bar in South Oropouche.

Ministry officials sent an e-mail to NP chairman Neil Gosine last week, stating they have reason to believe road tanker wagons were delivering condensate to service stations in Fyzabad and San Fernando. The San Fernando station is also being investigated.

Ministry officials said condensate is used to stretch the fuel.

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