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Diesel shortage could last for weeks

Fuel stations in Western Canada are still experiencing a fuel shortage, and it could be a while before resources are back to normal. The current shortage began about a month and a half ago, after an explosion at a Regina refinery, reducing its diesel production by 20 per cent.

As a one-two hit to the industry, production at Suncor's refinery in Edmonton was slowed down by a third-party's hydrogen shortage. As a result, stations across the region started rationing fuel: some in Fort St. John as low as a 200 litre daily limit. Since then, Suncor spokesperson Sneh Seetal says that their hydrogen supply was replaced late last week, and the idle units are back in operation.

However, it will still take weeks for diesel supplies to return to normal, according to Ted Stoner, Vice-President of the Western Canada Division of the Canadian Petroleum Products Institute. He explains that during late fall and winter, supply and demand for diesel is already tight, and "wrinkles" like those in Regina and Edmonton "throw everything for a loop".

"It's going to take weeks before the inventory start to build up," he suspects, adding it will come back very gradually. That's all with the hope that nothing else goes wrong.

Although limits that were in place earlier this month have largely been removed, service stations in Fort St. John still say they are low on supply. UFA Petroleum says it isn't limiting customers, but is still only pumping diesel from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. Co-op Petroleum still has a 300 litre limit for its cardholders. Both the Petro-Canada Bulk Plant and the Husky Oil Bulk Plant currently don't have a limit on diesel sales, but a representative at Husky says that if the shortage continues they're going to have to place restrictions.