Exxon reopens racks at gasoline terminal

ExxonMobil reopened the racks at its Baton Rouge gasoline terminal Thursday, eight days after it shut the facility down after problems developed involving more than 5 million gallons of unleaded regular fuel.

Two batches of bad fuel produced at ExxonMobil in mid-March caused some local drivers to experience problems with their intake and valve systems gumming up.

The batches contained a total of 120,000 barrels of gasoline. One barrel contains 42 gallons of gas. After an investigation, Exxon blamed the problems on an “atypical variation” in the fuel , which may produce a gum in engines, though all of the gasoline produced met regulatory specifications.

“We do not observe this variation in batches currently produced,” the company said in a statement released Thursday.

“We have set some conservative, interim, internal guidelines in our refinery production process and are able to ensure that fuel currently sold is safe for use in vehicles.”

Exxon said it recently tested new fuel produced at the refinery in vehicles that had problems previously with the bad fuel. The company simulated cold overnight temperatures in the test; some customers had complained of problems starting their cars in the morning.

The vehicles experienced no issues with the fuel recently produced by the refinery, Exxon said.

The company also has flown engine parts that were affected by the bad fuel to its research center in Paulsboro, N.J., for further testing.

The company produces about half of the gasoline sold in the Baton Rouge market. Other area refineries stepped up to meet the void caused by Exxon’s temporary departure from the market.

The company said it has dispatched claims representatives to Baton Rouge to work directly with consumers who purchased tainted fuel and resolve their claims. Exxon said it has begun reimbursing people with valid claims and is fully committed to working with customers.

Drivers with any questions or concerns about fuel they purchased in Baton Rouge or Lafayette should call ExxonMobil North America Customer Care toll free at (855) 300-2659.