Though less polluting, the state refinery Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo (Recope) admitted that the diesel it distributes since November to gasoline stations across the country can damage the fuel injection pumps of vehicle engines.

Photo Recope.go.cr

A report by La Nacion says that the new diesel fuel composition seems to ‘toast’ seals in the injection pump and cause leaks; but Recope will keep importing the fuel for the benefit of health and the environment.

However, in a statement by Recope on Friday, the state company says its diesel does not damage vehicle engines how wrongly it has been disclosed. “Faults detected only occur in the seals or packaging of some rotary type injection pumps, especially when the packaging is made of a material called nitrile,” says Recope.

The Recope acknowledges the fuel mix has less sulfur andthough they do damage to the engines of some vehicles, the fewer substances known as aromatics decrease health risks andthe  impact on the environment.

The state refinery says, “In accordance with the research carried out by a technical team of the Company, the failure in the seals of the pumps, is mainly due to the use and longevity of the same, that when coming into contact with the current diesel, with a low content of aromatics, they do not manage to adjust to the new conditions, since with the passage of time they have lost their elasticity and break up causing the observed leaks. This effect is corrected by replacing the seals”.

In effect putting the blame on owners and vehicle maintenance and passing the buck to the ARESEP, the regulating authority, to investigae and resolve the concerns of users.

Recope says it consulted with other state institutions, including the MINAE (Ministry of the Enviroment), ARESEP, Ministry of Health, ICE, Chambers of Commerce, the office of the Ombudsman, and representatives of vehicle importers, as part of the process of defining the regulations,

Back to the La Nacion article, Naresh Khanna, director of Planning at Recope and coordinator of the group created in January, defended the new fuel composition said, “we did not know this was going to happen, but, after an analysis, we we determined that the impact by the decrease of aromatics is also linked to maintenance issues. We are going to value adjusting the composition of diesel but we will continue to import less polluting hydrocarbons. The country needs it because of the obvious benefits to public health. In addition, we believe that we will no longer have cases other than those we have already received.”

According to Khanna, the Recope has received about 30 complaints and ruled out reimbursing anyone economically.

In Costa Rica, Recope is the exclusive importer and distributor of gasoline and diesel fuel sold by independent retailers (gasoline stations) across the country. The price of fuel is regulated.