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Tesco tests fuel for contamination on industry advice

Tesco Plc said it's testing its fuel for silicon following customer complaints their cars broke down after using fuel bought at the UK's biggest supermarket chain.

Tesco is „checking the level at which any contaminant would start to cause engine problems,” and testing its fuel for such elements, after receiving advice from industry experts, it said in a statement on its Web site. „So far we have not found any reason for these problems,” the company said. Customers said supplies bought from Tesco, other supermarket chains and UK fuel retailers in London and southeastern England caused car fuel-management systems to malfunction.

Retailers said the problem may be related to fuel provided by Greenergy Fuels Ltd. and Harvest Energy Ltd., both of which use storage facilities at a depot owned by Royal Vopak NV in Purfleet, Essex. „Silicon shouldn't really be in the product,” David Broughton, a spokesman for the government's Trading Standards Institute, said in a telephone interview today. If evidence of silicon contamination is found, the fuel would be deemed of unsatisfactory quality, even though it meets British product standards, he said.

The TSI has received around 3,000 complaints from motorists regarding unleaded gasoline that caused automobiles to break down, according to Broughton. The fuel responsible for the problems has probably passed through the system now, so supplies the retailers are selling should be safe, he said. There is no need to halt supplies of the fuel, he said. Tesco has set up a dedicated telephone line for customers concerned about the fuel to call, it said in a statement. (Bloomberg)