Fuel shortage hits truckers; OTA says surcharges coming

TORONTO — Ontario truckers say they’re feeling the effect of a fuel supply shortage in the form of fuel price hikes, including diesel, at all types of service stations across the province.

The supply shortage is a result of a fire at Imperial Oil’s Nanticoke, Ont. petroleum refinery. As of this morning, the company said about 80 of 400 service stations did not have fuel.

Imperial Oil said the ongoing strike at CN is preventing it from importing fuel from the U.S.

The Ontario Trucking Association reports that carriers are noticing price spikes as much as 20 percent, if they’ve been able to find fuel at all. Other trucks say independent fuel outlets are refusing to honor discount cards and demanding cash from truck drivers.

Imperial Oil says it’ll be at least a month
before their refinery is up and running

Starting yesterday, says CTA, trucking companies started receiving a letter from the vice-president of Fuels Marketing at Imperial Oil, alerting them to the fact the company has been forced to apportion distillate fuel and gasoline to customers in Ontario on a priority basis due to “operating events and transportation challenges.”

While the executive said he hoped the refinery would open up gain before the end of month, Imperial Oil is not saying when it expects things to return to normal.

OTA President Bradley says he fears this is just the beginning.

“You take one of the big fuel suppliers out of the marketplace and that is a recipe for massive price increases,” he says. “Carriers who are supplied by one of the other oil companies, depending on their contracts, might be protected somewhat in the short-term as are those that have bulk fuel held in reserve in storage tanks. But, once the fuel contracts come up for renewal, or the reserves run out — look out.”

“Right now, all trucking companies can do is scramble to find fuel and pass along the increased costs to their customers,” says Bradley. “Shippers should expect a spike-up in their carrier’s fuel surcharges.”

While OTA has shied away from calling for government regulation of the fuel market, Bradley says that he has called the Minister of Energy today to find out what he intends to do to ensure that the province has the supply of fuel it needs and to prevent price-gouging.

“If the truckers can’t get fuel or if they can’t pass on increased costs, they are out of business, and if they are out of business, Ontario’s economy stops. It is not a good situation,” he said.

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