OKLAHOMA CITY – An Oklahoma terminal may have provided to fuel retailers as much as 450,000 gallons of gasoline with up to three times the ethanol content allowed by law.
Now the terminal owner, Tulsa, Okla.-based Magellan Midstream Partners LP, has issued a recall and is identifying and notifying all of the fuel distributors who may have picked up the fuel and the retailers selling it. Magellan discovered an equipment failure early this week that had been affecting six distribution bays at its Oklahoma City terminal since Aug. 23, according to a report byThe Oklahoman.
“We had a piece of equipment fail, which allowed a higher-than-allowable content of ethanol get into gasoline that was delivered to retailers,” spokesperson Bruce Heine told the newspaper.
“This is not the retailers’ fault," he continued. "This is our issue at Magellan. We’re doing the right thing by recapturing and replacing as quickly as possible and owning up to the incident.”
Heine said the gasoline from one loading arm in one bay could have distributed gasoline with up to 30% ethanol content. “We think it will be less than that, but that’s the maximum calculated at this time,” he said.
Almost 450,000 gallons or 10,700 barrels of the high-ethanol fuel made its way to central Oklahoma fuel retailers over the past week, according to Magellan. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission, the state’s oil and gas regulatory body, released a list of fuel retailers in several counties who may have sold the recalled gasoline. They include a few local traditional operators such as 7-Eleven Stores in Oklahoma, a travel plaza, the warehouse club Sam’s Club, the Tinker Air Force Base and a marina.
In Oklahoma, most gasoline sold is the 10% ethanol blend E10. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved E15, a 15% ethanol blend, for vehicle models 2001 and newer. Higher ethanol blends—including E25, E30 and E85—are approved only for flex-fuel vehicles, which have components designed to withstand the highly corrosive ethanol content.
Consumers who may have fueled up vehicles not designed for higher ethanol blends and are experiencing issues should contact their fuel retailer, Heine said. Magellan will work with retailers to handle complaints. “We will cover all legitimate claims,” he said.
Inspectors from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission are also examining pumps that may have dispensed the high-ethanol fuel.
“We will take whatever steps we can to see that the gas gets recovered and taken off the market and to assist in getting the word out,” commission spokesman Matt Skinner told The Oklahoman.
7-Eleven Stores, which has more than 100 sites in the state, had formed an internal team to double-check its fuel. (The Oklahoma City-based retailer is neither a franchisee nor licensee of the national 7-Eleven chain but rather has special rights to its naming and branding.)
“It’s pretty sophisticated equipment to dip into tanks and measure both the octane and ethanol,” Jim Brown, president and CEO of 7-Eleven Stores, told the newspaper. “We’re getting pretty good use of the equipment today.”
The company later issued a press release stating it had “analyzed and corrected any issues identified that might be connected to an equipment failure from Magellan Midstream Partners L.P.”