Illegal diesel sold from carparks and industrial estates, even delivered to the doorstep , Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Illegal diesel sold from carparks and industrial estates, even delivered to the doorstep

Operators hawking illegal diesel have made a return, doing business in areas such as Tampines and Pioneer.

At a heavy vehicle parking space in Tampines North on any given weekday, a steady stream of buses and vans can be seen queuing for diesel dispensed from a tanker truck.

Business was brisk when The Straits Times visited the location on separate occasions in late February.

The fuel sold here can be as much as 40 per cent cheaper than what major fuel suppliers charge, which is currently at around $2.62 a litre.

More recently, a video posted on the SG Road Vigilante Facebook page showed that there were also tankers stationed at another heavy vehicle carpark located just five-minutes away at Tampines Avenue 9.

Under the law, vehicles using parking spaces are not allowed to conduct any business without prior written permission from the Government, and offenders can be hauled to court.

In response to queries, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said they were aware of the video clip on social media and are investigating.

SCDF’s spokesman cited the Fire Safety Act, which makes it an offence to store or dispense petroleum and flammable materials at unlicensed premises. Those convicted can be fined up to $10,000, jailed up to six months, or both.

The URA allows transport-related companies or industries that require diesel or petrol to serve their own fleet of vehicles or industrial operations to set up pumps at certain industrial properties, like those used for vehicle servicing and repair or construction.

However, these companies are not allowed to sell the fuel to the public.

In 2020, ST reported that as many as 50 sites in Singapore were found to be selling unbranded diesel or “white pumps”.

Industry observers said that while many of these operators have since disappeared, others have popped up as pump prices rose.

Such unbranded fuels may be taken from major suppliers such as Caltex, ExxonMobil, Singapore Petroleum Company, Sinopec or Shell, but they may also come from unknown sources and be of unknown quality.

One engineering company owner who declined to be named told ST that a seller had offered to “deliver” the diesel to his location if he had “four or more” vehicles that need filling up.

Over at the Pioneer industrial area is a fuel pump nestled among piles of what looked like industrial junk.

One business owner who used the pump said his company gets a bill at the end of each month.

Commercial vehicles such as vans, trucks and buses tend to use more fuel than private cars.

Businesses that use these vehicles are thus more impacted by the rising fuel prices caused by the war in Ukraine.

The price of diesel, which is the dominant fuel used by such vehicles, hit a record high of $3.19 a litre in June 2022 – a jump of more than a dollar from what it was just a year ago.

Even though diesel pump prices have come down, a litre of diesel from the major fuel retailers cost $2.62 as at March 8, based on pump price tracker Fuel Kaki.

At current prices, the difference between filling up a mid-size bus at the normal pump and white pumps can be as much as $100 each time.

Mr Johnny Wong from Best Chemical, a distributor of performance fuels and diesel exhaust fluid, warns motorists to be aware of the type of diesel that they are buying from these operators, as some may have higher than acceptable levels of sulphur.

While such grades of diesels are acceptable for power generators, for example, they can cause significant damage to modern diesel truck engines that is expensive to repair.

An owner of a transport company who declined to be named said: “Actually, these tankers and white pumps have been around for a long time. But now that the news is out, I guess the authorities will be stepping in.”