Motorists have called in to various morning television talk shows to complain about the quality of diesel being sold at service stations in Belize of late. They claim that their vehicles’ response are not as peppy as before, and express the view that the substandard quality of the diesel is to blame.
Many believe that retailers are mixing the diesel with the cheaper kerosene. They note that fuel filters need to be changed more often than before and that the injection nozzles for vehicles with turbo-charged systems get fouled up a lot faster than before. This was corroborated by one importer agency which sells Toyota diesel vehicles, and which also provides service maintenance for the vehicles they sell.
A check with the Bureau of Standards on what protection the Government of Belize is offering to consumers with regard to fuel quality revealed that the Bureau is just about to begin to establish mechanisms to ensure better standards.
Mr. Lloyd Orellano of the Bureau of Standards disclosed that the Bureau has set up a technical committee which will undertake the necessary research to establish quality standards, for premium, regular gasoline and for diesel.
“Other countries already have established quality standards, which Belize can borrow. The committee will examine the quality standards established by the United States, Mexico and Central American countries to draft legislation which can then be approved by the National Assembly and passed in to law.
The Bureau would then have to work out an enforcement strategy, because for one thing, it does not have the infrastructure or the testing equipment. Even when a laboratory has been built and equipped with the necessary instruments, it still has to be accredited by other internationally recognized laboratories, for its analysis results to be accepted.
“This won’t happen overnight, and to give an idea of the time frame involved, Orellano cited the example of how the Bureau responded to the problem of ensuring that consumers get a fair weight when they fill a cylinder of butane.
Even after butane retailers were required by law to have a scale certified by the Bureau of Standards, on which they would weigh the cylinders, they still had to be given a grace period for compliance, for them to acquire the right equipment.
When The Reporter checked with PUMA Energy on the subject, General Manager Freddy Flores assured the newspaper that their diesel quality is the same that was provided under the ESSO brand.
Puma Energy Belize he said, stands for delivering high-quality fuels: “Puma Energy’s fuel supply business is ruled by stringent standards in the industry.
“We source our fuels internationally, and we commit significant resources in pursuit of product quality. Quality extends to fuel feeds and maintenance. We also adopt industry-leading processes and invest in the latest capital equipment.
“The grade of diesel fuel that Puma Energy supplies in Belize complies with specifications agreed for Central America, and they are the same for Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua.
Earlier this year Puma Energy acquired all the assets of Esso Standrd Oil, S.A. in Belize and is now the de facto supplier of gasoline, kerosene and diesel to the Belize market.
An official statement from Puma’s corporate office in the U.S. late Thursday evening provided more details. .
“Puma Energy” the statement said, “is an integrated midstream and downstream oil company active in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, North East Europe, the Middle East and Asia . .
“Formed in 1997 in Central America,Puma Energy has since expanded its activities worldwide, achieving rapid growth, diversification and product line development. .
“With headquarters in Switzerland, Puma Energy now operates in 32 countries, and manages over 4,000 people worldwide. Puma Energy’s core activities in the midstream sector include the supply, storage and transportation of petroleum products. Puma Energy’s activities are underpinned by investment in infrastructure which optimises supply chain systems, capturing value as both asset owner and marketer of product”.