Exxon replacing gas at BR terminal

ExxonMobil said Monday that its gasoline racks at its Baton Rouge terminal remain closed as the company pumps out and replaces gasoline there after two recent batches of bad fuel caused some drivers to experience problems with their intake and valve systems gumming up.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we are pumping out previous gasoline batches and replenishing inventory with recent production,” Exxon officials said Monday in a statement. “We will reopen the gasoline racks at the terminal as soon as possible.”

Exxon stopped distributing gasoline from its terminal on Wednesday after problems developed involving unleaded regular fuel on the local market. The company produces about half of the gasoline sold in the Baton Rouge market. Other area refineries have stepped up to meet the void caused by Exxon’s temporary departure from the market.

Exxon officials said they have identified an “atypical variation” in the fuel in two batches of regular unleaded gasoline produced between March 12 and March 15.

The two batches had a total of 120,000 barrels of gasoline, or more than 5 million gallons.

The company has not observed the variation in batches currently being produced at its Baton Rouge refinery.

The company also has said that the gasoline being sold at Baton Rouge stations is safe to purchase because the tainted fuel has long been diluted.

Large, busy gas stations get their fuel tanks filled up every day, while smaller stations get gasoline every two to four days.

Dozens of drivers from metro Baton Rouge and Lafayette had contacted the Department of Agriculture and Forestry, which oversees gas pumps, about problems with bad fuel.

Drivers have complained about their vehicles being difficult to start first thing in the morning or the car running rough. In extreme cases, the vehicles wouldn’t start. The severity of the problem was determined by the amount of fuel in the vehicle and the condition of the engine.

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.