Shell Suspends Sale of Fuel with Additives

September 17, 2004

THE multinational Shell gasoline corporationsuspended the sale of fuel mixedwith additives in Costa Rica last Fridaypending a ruling on the legality of theproduct.Alejandro Félix, manager of Shell’sexternal affairs for Costa Rica, Panamaand Nicaragua, told the daily Al Día thecompany was losing “thousands of dollars,”because of Costa Rica’s indecisionon the matter.Shell ran full-page advertisements inthe daily La Nación last weekend explainingthe additives are used in countriesaround the world and they clean the motorand “help maintain vehicles in optimumworking condition.”The ads, signed by Shell Costa Ricapresident Juan Carlos Cortés and vicepresidentDarío Amadeo, also suggestedthe Costa Rican Association of FuelVendors is trying to establish “specialrights to the detriment of the general population,”therefore blocking “Costa Ricanconsumers from exercising their right tochoose.”The president of the Association ofFuel Vendors, Berny Ramírez, told Al Díahis group had tried several times in thepast to mix additives into their fuel, butauthorities didn’t allow it. Therefore, ifthey allow it now, there should be an officialregulation that guarantees gas qualityfor consumers.Last week, the Environment andEnergy Ministry (MINAE) came outagainst the use of additives without a regulationand laboratory tests (TT, Sept. 10).The Regulatory Authority for PublicServices (ARESEP), which would handlesuch regulation, is studying the issue andresults are expected by the end of thisweek.Shell says such a regulation alreadyexists. In its ad, the gas company quotedTechnical Regulation 249:1997 of theEconomy, Industry and CommerceMinistry (MEIC) that says additives canbe used with the intention of improvingbehavior characteristics.“However, because there was a doubt,we consulted ARESEP and the Economy,Industry and Commerce Ministry, and theEnvironment and Energy Ministry. Sincethey didn’t respond we thought there wasno problem,” Félix said.

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