Faisal Maliki Baskoro
Jakarta. PT Pertamina’s Premium fuel distributed in Greater Jakarta is contaminated with substances that have led to the breakdowns of thousands of cars, particularly taxis, according to a study from a non-governmental organization that advocates for clean fuel.
“Based on our research, Pertamina’s Premium fuel in the city may contain zinc, ferrum as well as other sediments such as water and mud,” Ahmad Safrudin, chairman of the Committee Against Leaded Gasoline (KPBB), said on Friday.
The KPBB surveyed 20 auto repair shops in Greater Jakarta and found that seven of them had received complaints of fuel pumps damaged by those substances, he said.
“Zinc coating in Pertamina storage depots may have peeled off and mixed with the fuel,” he said. “Lack of tank cleaning and maintenance of the storage areas may have been the cause for those substances to become mixed with the fuel.”
He urged Pertamina and the government to immediately explain to the public what was wrong with Premium fuel, instead of insisting that the state energy company was not at fault.
Pertamina spokesman Basuki Trikora Putra questioned KPBB’s research, calling the accusations baseless and saying the organization’s test results were invalid.
“The directorate general of oil and gas in cooperation with downstream oil and gas regulator BPH Migas are investigating this issue. The investigation is independent and the result will be the official result,” he said.
Basuki said Pertamina had carried out upkeep of its storage tanks and distribution of fuel in accordance with the company’s standard operating procedures.
“We have routine maintenance in our storage depots and refineries,” he said.
“Our fuel has been certified and quality checked. All of this was documented by Pertamina and the government.”
The fuel pump flap began when Jakarta’s biggest taxi company, Blue Bird Group, said 1,200 of its taxis had been affected by impurities in Pertamina’s Premium fuel.
The Express taxi company and Gamya Taxi Group have noted the same problems in its Toyotas and Nissans.
The problem is also affecting auto manufacturer Hyundai, which along with Toyota said it was struggling to meet a sudden surge in demand for fuel pumps.
Gamya on Wednesday threatened to drop Pertamina as its fuel distributor and switch to Shell, a pricier option.
The company said it had suffered Rp 500 million ($56,000) in losses over the past month due to repair costs and lost revenue after fuel pumps malfunctioned on 270 of the company’s vehicles.
Mintarsih Latif, Gamya’s president director, said that independent tests conducted in Thailand at the behest of an automotive distributor found that the sulfur content in Pertamina’s Premium gasoline exceeded normal levels for the fuel.
Last week, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources also launched an investigation of four Pertamina gas stations in Greater Jakarta, but found the premium fuel met government specifications.
Another probe by the Civil Servant Investigators office (PPNS) carried out earlier this week on four gas stations had yet to announce its result.