Petrol bombshell: Lab test ignored, bad stock released

Despite laboratory tests proving that the recently imported 20,000 tons of refined fuel was sub-standard, a senior official in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources ordered that it be released to the market, the Sunday Times learns. The startling disclosure was made as a probe continued into the fuel scam that led to the breakdown of hundreds of vehicles.

An official who did not wish to be identified said that soon after the stocks were brought here, laboratory tests had revealed that the petrol failed to meet the specifications and stocks were held back for one and half days before orders were issued to release them to sheds. This stock of petrol was hurriedly imported from the Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC) as petroleum stocks were on the verge of drying up by June 15 due to the shutting down of the Sapugaskanda oil refinery for maintenance, the official said. The shipment carrying 20,000 metric tonnes of petrol arrived on June 14.

Two tenders from India’s Reliance were not considered as they were not in a position to supply the required amount in time. Thereafter the stock was imported from a Dubai company not registered with the CPC, another official said.

Petroleum Ministry Secretary Titus Jayawardene who issued the order to import the controversial stock in the absence of CPC Chairman Harry Jayawardene and Petroleum Minister Susil Premajayantha who were on overseas tours, had directed the CPC staff to fill the storage tanks with this substandard stock. Titus Jayawardane was later removed from his post and transferred to the Public Administration pool. However petroleum experts who had seen the test reports said the stock from ENOC contained impurities including metal particles and was of low quality unsuitable for vehicle engines.
Minister Premajayantha said a comprehensive investigation was now being carried out by a three-member committee.

He said the situation was back to normal with the CPC receiving its usual supplies. He said the CPC had been forced to make emergency purchases owing to high demand during the poson holiday period and the drying up of stocks. "The Cabinet Appointed Tender Board had the mandate to authorize such emergency purchases," he said. However there was no decision on paying compensation to those who were affected.

Related Article: People fume over fuel fiasco

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