The Energy Department said Tuesday it found 46 gasoline stations selling petroleum products with high methanol blend ranging from 1 percent to 16 percent per volume during a series of inspections.
The department’s Oil Industry Management Bureau conducted the inspection from January to November among 924 retail outlets/gas stations.
The retail outlets/gas stations were located around Metro Manila and the provinces of Cavite, Rizal, Batangas and Quezon.
“We have to protect our consumers from buying and using adulterated petroleum products, hence we are conducting onsite inspections,” Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said in a statement.
“We cannot allow the oil players, especially illegal peddlers, to short-change our people by selling them adulterated petroleum products,” Cusi said.
The agency said of the stations inspected, three belonged to major players and 18 to independent players while 25 were white stations or retail outlets/gas stations that had one to five service stations.
The department said while methanol was an innate component in bioethanol, it should not mean that methanol should be directly blended in finished gasoline products.
The Philippine National Standards for bioethanol specifies the limit for E100 at a maximum of 0.5 percent per volume or an expected maximum allowable methanol content of 0.05 percent per volume in E10.
The Biofuels Law mandates the use of E10 blended gasoline in the market, which contains 10-percent ethanol.
“We are strictly monitoring the components of biofuels, because we have specific standards for them. As a blend to raw gasoline products, E10 has a very minimal methanol content, because it is inherent to the fuel but it is not intentionally blended,” Cusi said.
“Oil companies cannot use the methanol component in E10 as their leeway to replace ethanol with methanol in their products, because that’s a different scenario already,” he said.
Cusi said illegal blending of methanol with gasoline was prohibited because “it can harm motor engines due to its corrosive characteristics.”
Since methanol is not a regulated substance, regulatory bodies such as the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Philippine National Police, do not monitor its importation and sale.
The Energy Department requested a meeting with Samahan sa Pilipinas ng mga Industriya Kimika or Chemical Industries Association of the Philippines to identify local entities utilizing methanol in their operations.
Cusi said oil companies found to have adulterated petroleum products would face penalties in accordance with the provisions of the Retail Rules and Biofuels Law.
“The DOE will continue its monitoring of gas stations to address this serious concern and requests the public to be vigilant and report any irregularities to the appropriate authorities,” the department said.
The Independent Philippine Petroleum Companies Association expressed concern on the issue of adulteration of gasoline products with methanol as early as September.
“The reason for that is because methanol is now cheaper than gasoline. So these kinds of adulteration for the sake of getting more, unfortunately got mixed,” IPPC president Fernando Martinez said.
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