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With Esso stations running dry, demand has grown at Petro-Canada and Shell stations as those two companies struggled to keep up with supplies. ((CBC))

The Ontario government has temporarily waived some of the work rules governing truck drivers to help cope with the province's fuel supply crunch.

The waiver will let petroleum haulers work longer hours until the situation stabilizes, and is to remain in place until March 15, the Ontario Trucking Association said Thursday.

Among the waived rules is the regulation that drivers and operators cannot drive after accumulating 70 hours on-duty in a seven-day period.

Association president David Bradley said the rule change should help ensure that fuel haulers don't run out of hours before making their deliveries.

"We anticipate that there will be long line-ups at the fuel-loading depots for the next while," Bradley said.

The shortages followeda Feb. 15 fire at Imperial Oil's Nanticoke refinery, which severely limited the company's ability to provide fuel supplies to its Esso outlets. With Esso stations running dry, that sparked a demand crunch at Petro-Canada and Shell stations as those two companies struggled to keep up with supplies.

Imperial said earlier this week that the Nanticoke refinery has begun processing fuel again, but full production is not expected until mid-March.

On Thursday, two fuel supplies — Ultramar and Husky — warned of a shortage of diesel fuel in the province.

Ultramar suspended diesel deliveries at four Toronto-area filling stations, along with outlets in Hamilton, Cambridge and London. The outlets would remain open only as long as supplies lasted.

Husky also said several of its outlets were dry, and the company was limiting sales to 200 litres per transaction.

With files from the Canadian Press