Tesoro Refinery Glitch Causes Problems for N.D. Motorists

Gasoline was blended improperly, company says

BISMARCK, N.D. -- Tesoro Petroleum Corp., owner of North Dakota's only oil refinery, said that gasoline was blended improperly at the facility, prompting complaints from drivers requiring repairs for damage caused by the bad fuel.

The incident follows an unrelated error last week when Tulsa, Okla.-based Magellan Midstream Partners LLC delivered 108 loads of gasoline with above-regulation concentrations of ethanol to more than 60 gas stations and coops in Minnesota (see Related Content below for previous CSP Daily News coverage).

In a statement obtained by CSP Daily News, Tesoro said, "Consumer complaints in the Mandan/Bismarck [N.D.] area regarding engine performance last week led to a determination by Tesoro that off-spec fuel from the Mandan refinery had entered the market."

It added, "Company personnel promptly addressed the matter at the refinery and began working around the clock to pump out and replace off-spec fuel supplies at all affected locations. Additionally, Tesoro committed to reimburse consumers whose vehicles were impacted by the event. The company continues to make good on that commitment today and deeply regrets any inconvenience the event may have caused its customers."

The company would not comment on how much fuel was improperly made, how it happened or how many retailers and drivers were affected, added an Associated Press report.

Tesoro said it began receiving complaints about bad gasoline last Tuesday. The company said diesel was not affected.

"We're still working to determine exactly what happened," company spokesperson Jill Saletta told the news agency. "We cleared the tank and are working with every customer to remove affected fuel and replace it."

North Dakota Petroleum Marketers Association president Mike Rud told AP that stations in Bismarck, Mandan and Washburn, N.D., had reported problems.

Built in 1954, the Mandan refinery across the Missouri River from Bismarck, produces gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, propane, butane and residual fuel. It also has an ethanol blending facility. Tesoro, which is based in San Antonio, acquired the refinery from BP in 2001.

Most of the Mandan refinery's products are shipped through pipelines to eastern North Dakota and Minnesota and sold to customers in the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin, the company said. Gasoline makes up about 60% of the refinery's production on average.

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