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Sinopec Starts Probe on Gasoline After Car Faults

April 19 (Bloomberg) -- China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., the nation’s largest oil refiner, started an investigation after receiving complaints that its gasoline had stopped some cars in Henan from starting while others spouted red or black liquid.

The Beijing-based company is collecting samples of its 93-octane gasoline from across the central province, spokesman Huang Wensheng said today by phone. Its unit in Anyang city may provide free services to cars affected by the problem, he said without giving details.

“We’ve ordered our Henan unit to provide answers as soon as possible,” Huang said. “So far, we think some of the gasoline may not be ours.”

Sinopec, as China Petroleum is known, produces more than half of the fuel sold in the nation. The company operates a refinery in Henan’s Luoyang city that can produce 160,000 barrels a day of fuel.

Sinopec has invited investigators from local government groups to take part in the probe, the refiner said in a letter published in the China Youth Daily newspaper yesterday.

Apart from services to clean affected car parts, Sinopec will also replenish for free the amount of gasoline in the vehicles before they were sent for servicing, according to a report on the Youth Daily on April 17.

Sinopec reported 124 million metric tons in domestic fuel sales in 2009, or 60 percent of the estimated 207 million tons in apparent demand, according to its 2009 annual report. Henan is China’s most populous province.

In January, liquefied petroleum gas sold by Sinopec was suspected to have caused vehicle breakdowns in Hong Kong. The city’s government started a probe on the incident after 62 people reported the suspected cases of taxis and minibuses stalling.

To contact the reporter on this story: Baizhen Chua in Beijing at bchua14@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Clyde Russell in Singapore at crussell7@bloomberg.net

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