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Trucking association concerned over fuel shortage

TORONTO, Ont. -- The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) says the current fuel supply problems at Imperial Oil are s...

TORONTO, Ont. — The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) says the current fuel supply problems at Imperial Oil are starting to have an impact on trucking companies in the province.

David Bradley, OTA president says that his association has been hearing from members that they are already experiencing the effects of the shortage. Some have not been able to find fuel and others are seeing prices spike by as much as 10% to 20%. Others have reported independent fuel outlets refusing to honour discount cards and demanding cash from truck drivers.

Starting yesterday, trucking companies started receiving a letter from the vice-president and general manager, fuels marketing at Imperial Oil, alerting them to the fact the company has due to “unexpected operating events and transportation challenges” had to apportion distillate fuel (diesel and home heating oil) and gasoline to customers in Ontario on a priority basis.

“You take one of the big fuel suppliers out of the marketplace and that is a recipe for massive price increases,” noted Bradley. “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.”

However, beyond saying that it hopes that the Nanticoke refinery currently shut down because of a fire is expected to resume production before the end of month, and that it hopes to resolve current issues as soon as possible, Imperial Oil is not saying when it expects things to return to normal.

“Right now, all trucking companies can do is scramble to find fuel and pass along the increased costs to their customers,” said 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 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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