Diesel is starting to flow again at truck stops in Western Canada, but truckers are hoping the federal government can prevent another diesel shortage by regulating when refineries can shut down for maintenance.
The tanks ran dry more than a month ago after two of the three key refineries in Alberta went down. The shortage forced many drivers to go out of their way to fill up — shipments arrived late and clients levied late fees.
A meeting about the problem with Natural Resources Canada officials and fuel suppliers is set for December, said Gene Orlick, a director with the Canadian Trucking Alliance and president of a Calgary trucking company.
"Let's get a good supply of fuel because it impacts the entire economy," he said.
In a letter to the Canadian Trucking Alliance, deputy minister Cassie Doyle said she shares concerns about the shortage and her staff have begun a "comprehensive study" of the issue.
"The most recent problems have resulted from an unplanned refinery outage that overlapped with a required planned shutdown at another refinery, significantly curtailing the supplies of diesel fuel," said Doyle in the letter.
Late fees hit $1,000
Orlick's trucking company saw about 10 large shipments delivered late in the last month. He will be spending part of this week meeting with clients in hopes of repairing relationships, and negotiating the payment of late fees.
"There are a couple of customers that fined us $1,000 for being late," said Orlick.
Hardeep Sodhi, who filled up his rig at a Calgary Petro-Canada this weekend, said less than a week ago he was arriving late to his destinations because of the shortage. Sodhi said late fines averaged $300 every week during the last two months.
"They were just so angry," he recalled. "We told them we don't got fuel on the road, what can we do?"