According to reports by the Chinese media, a gas station in the eastern province of Jiangsu has been identified as the source of heavily-diluted fuel that has caused numerous vehicle breakdowns in the area.
A number of cars in the city of Nantong suffered engine trouble just minutes after their tanks were filled at a Sinopec stand (owned by the China Petrolium and Chemical Corporation), with each car later found to have water in its fuel tank.
It wasn’t long before mechanics and motorists alike began to notice a pattern between the sudden engine failures and visits to the Sinopec stand.
Late last month, a Chinese BMW owner pulled into the gas station to fill his thirsty car’s tank. After paying for the fuel and travelling just 200 metres down the street, however, the car suddenly started sputtering and ground to a halt. Just 20 minutes earlier, another motorist suffered spontaneous engine failure after filling up at the same location.
The cause of both breakdowns? Water in the fuel, with almost 80% of the liquid in one car’s tank found to be made up of plain old H2O.
When confronted, a representative from the Sinopec station admitted that the petrol sold by the stand may have contained water, but vehemently denied any wrongdoing, saying: “There is absolutely no way that the fuel sold here was diluted intentionally.”
Instead, the representative pointed to the possibility that water vapour had collected on the inside of the fuel’s transportation tank and had found its way into the petrol during its delivery, suggesting that those involved in the fuel’s shipping may had been negligent in checking the soundness of their containers.
But with as little as 20% of the liquid being pumped into some customers’ cars being actual fuel, one has to wonder just how decrepit the fuel tanks being hauled across China really could be…