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NEW ORLEANS -- More than two weeks after a batch of tainted gasoline caused Shell Oil Co. to temporarily close pumps at nearly 200 gas stations in the New Orleans region, the company has released a list of stations that received the gas from a Shell refinery. But the company still cannot say for sure which stations sold the bad fuel, reported the New Orleans-based Times-Picayune.
Late last week, after repeated requests, Shell released a list of Shell and Texaco stations that received the problem fuel from the Norco refinery operated by Shell's U.S. refining arm, Motiva Enterprises LLC. But Shell says the list, which includes 162 New Orleans-region stations that received the tainted gas, is not conclusive, and the company issued several qualifying statements along with the list.
Shell also reported that 33 New Orleans-area stations that sell Shell and Texaco brands did not receive the bad gas.
Notwithstanding its flaws, the list is the only document Shell has made public indicating which of its gas stations might have sold the tainted fuel.
The gasoline, which contains high levels of elemental sulfur, can make fuel gauges malfunction, possibly causing unsuspecting drivers to run out of gas. Although Shell says it has flushed out the gas station storage tanks that were affected and filled them with fresh gasoline, many drivers have sought a list of stations that sold the bad fuel to help them determine if their cars are vulnerable.
The list of stations provided by Shell includes "those stations where Motiva believes its gasoline was supplied during the affected time period," said Shawn Frederick, a Shell spokesman. But the list doesn't say which stations sold problem gasoline.
For example, Frederick said, some of the bad gasoline might have been mixed with other gasoline in storage tanks at the gas stations. This blending, he said, could have diluted the bad gas enough that it would not hurt a car's gas gauge.
Also, Frederick said, even if a station received the bad gas, that doesn't mean the station sold it, or, if so, for how long.
Shell's list also fails to include some stations operating under different brands that bought the gas from Motiva and might have resold it. About 40 Chevron stations, a handful of ExxonMobil stations and some independent stations also received the gas. Finally, Shell's list leaves out the dates when the gasoline was delivered to the stations.
Shell has agreed to pay for repairs and as of last week had received about 30,000 claims from drivers in Louisiana and Florida. Some gasoline from the Norco refinery was sent to Florida and sold from Port Everglades and Tampa stations.