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BP Halts Sales Of Midgrade, Premium Fuel In Chicago Area

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Gasoline pump. (Credit: Miguel Gutierrez/Getty Images)

Gasoline pump. (Credit: Miguel Gutierrez/Getty Images)

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Updated 08/23/12 – 10 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – BP said Thursday it has fixed the problem that forced a recall of fuel in Northwest Indiana, the Chicago area, and the Milwaukee area, but has halted sales of premium and midgrade gas in those areas.

According to a statement on the company website, the BP refinery in Whiting, Ind., has returned to normal production, but higher grades of fuel are still undergoing further tests, so won’t be sold for now.

The announcement was bad news for Seyi Ayangade, who needs to put premium grade in his Rolls Royce. He rolled into a BP station in the South Loop only to find signs saying Ultimate and Premium gas was not available.

“I guess I’m going to have to drive home,” he told CBS 2’s Pamela Jones.

Others had to settle for regular unleaded, but one station in Matteson ran empty.

The company has said the contaminated gasoline made its way to about 220 gas stations in the Chicago region.

WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya spoke to one of the BP gas station managers who received the tainted gasoline.

Nix Sam manages the BP gas station at 103rd Street and Torrence Avenue in the South Deering neighborhood.

He said up to 8,000 gallons of gasoline was delivered last Saturday, and by Monday customers were coming in to complain about problems with their cars.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports

“They couldn’t get it to start,” Sam said. “A couple customers said that, like, they started the first time. It started funny, and then it … no start after that.”

Sam said BP acted quickly to rectify the problem.

“They took all the bad gas, they changed whole filters, and everything,” Sam said.

About 25 of Sam’s customers came to him to complain, and ask for BP’s consumer phone line. Most of them were regulars.

“They are a little bit upset, but hopefully everything works out good,” Sam said. “I guess if BP takes care of them, then everything will be alright.”

BP has said it believes a 50,000-barrel batch of gasoline shipped from its Whiting fuel storage terminal Aug. 13-17 contained a higher level of a polymeric residue, which is difficult to burn in automobile engines.

While the problem is centered in Lake County, Ind., BP executives said the fuel has made its way across state lines into Illinois and Wisconsin. Motorists from southwestern Michigan have also called the oil giant.

BP spokesman Scott Dean said that more than 10,000 motorists have called or e-mailed to complain, and BP has begun paying claims.

BP continues to ask those who have complaints to provide some form of proof of purchase, such as a receipt or a list of debit or credit card transactions that includes the purchase, as well as itemized repair bills.

BP said some of the tainted gasoline was sold at stations that are not BP-branded, including Tornton and Costco stations.

“BP stands by every gallon of gasoline we sell,” Dean said.

Dean said BP would pay for a replacement tank of gas and any repairs made necessary by bad gas.

Dean said customers can make complaints by one at (800) 333-3991 or 800-599-9040, can e-mail bpconsum@bp.com or visit http://www.bpresponse.com.

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