Fuel shortage looks grim for truckers: OTA

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TORONTO, Ont. — Though the Ontario Trucking Association has not yet received reports of truckers having to shut down as a result of the current fuel shortage, the association says the situation appears to be growing worse every day.

According to a recent survey by the OTA, advisories have been issued to customers by at least one major fuel retailer that stations in the Mississauga, North Bay, Sudbury, New Liskeard and Cochrane area may face critical supply issues and shortages and disruptions could occur in the Niagara Peninsula, London, Sault Ste. Marie and Windsor. Drivers are being advised that they should plan their fuel stops away from these critical supply areas if possible.

The association has also learned that a growing number of trucking companies are reporting that their bulk storage facilities are empty or very close to being empty and that their fuel suppliers are informing them that relief may not come for days. Companies that are receiving fuel supplies for their bulk facilities are being rationed.

Trucking companies caught in this situation report that they cannot find relief from other fuel suppliers fearing a run on the supply needed to meet the demands of their current customers which is already showing signs of strain, the OTA said in a release.

The shortages have resulted from a combination of the CN rail strike and the Feb. 15 refinery fire at Imperial Oils Nanticoke facility. The cost of diesel fuel has risen by as much as 20% over the last several weeks.

We have not seen the worst of it yet even though many companies are scrambling to find fuel and prices continue to escalate. Depending on who their current fuel supplier is and how much fuel they have in underground storage tanks, some are feeling the impact of the fuel shortage sooner than others, but all are worried that if this goes on for much longer the situation could get desperate and their could be a run on diesel fuel, said OTA president, David Bradley.

The OTA is still awaiting official word from the federal government on a proposal put forward by the association to allow truckers to temporarily use diesel fuel designated for off-road use. This would provide relief in the short-term, says Bradley, It is our understanding that the government is wading through the legalities, but for now we are hamstrung.

Bradley said the association is planning on setting up a make-shift fuel matching service on its Web site where members who have sufficient supply of diesel fuel could sell it to a member company who is short.
We are doing the best we can as an industry, but it gets tougher each day.

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