Between a shortage of hydrogen sulphide at Suncor’s Edmonton refinery and an explosion at the Consumers’ Co-operative refinery in Regina last month, the diesel supply has quickly evaporated. Officials with Consumers’ have said their diesel output will be 20 per cent lower until the spring.
That has trucking companies like St. Albert-based Bushell Transport Company, which runs 15 power units, hunting for fuel and even ensuring their trucks are all topped up before they return to Canada from trucking runs to the United States.
“We’re telling our drivers to make sure their tanks are jammed full if they come back to Canada,” said owner Grant Glattacker.
The problem, Glattacker explained, is that Bushell has one supplier for its trucks. If that supplier’s diesel tanks run dry, the trucks have to hunt around for fuel and sometimes end up finding diesel at suppliers with whom Bushell does not have house accounts. Paying at those pumps subsequently drives up the cost for the company.
“It does impact Canadian retailers,” Glattacker said, adding office staff and drivers have their ears tuned to the CB radio to find out which stations have received fuel. He’s heard nothing about when the shortage might be alleviated.
The city’s two largest diesel users — public works and transit — have not experienced any problems keeping their vehicles running, according to department managers.
“I’m not aware, or staff haven’t indicated, that we’re having any issues at this time,” said public works director Glenn Tompolski.
Public works vehicles draw their diesel from transit’s supply, Tompolski said. And Will Steblyk, manager of planning and customer service with St. Albert Transit, said their tanks are full.
“We really haven’t experienced any problems in relation to not being able to get the fuel,” Steblyk said, saying transit authorities like St. Albert, Edmonton and Calgary are considered a high priority for their suppliers.
“In the past there have been diesel shortages that didn’t really impact us in any significant way.”
Cost has also never been an issue when fuel is scarce, Steblyk said. Like the public, transit’s costs increase whenever the price of fuel increases.
“We haven’t really noticed significant price increases during those shortages.”