Dry pumps, angry drivers and hoarders filling jerry cans could become a common sight in Toronto – especially during the summer when demand for fuel is the highest.
Sound crazy? Industry experts say it’s a real possibility that already played itself out last week on a small scale, with Shell stations in the GTA running out of fuel.
“Gas shortages will keep happening, especially in Ontario,” said Dave Collins, vice president of Wilson Fuel, an independent gasoline company.
As the supply chain works now, the amount of fuel refined and then sold at local gas stations is just meeting consumer demand. But last week, that chain broke: Shell’s refinery in Sarnia was shut down longer than expected for maintenance. The stockpile of fuel they’d budgeted wasn’t enough to supply their stations in Ontario.
The result? Pumps ran dry.
The only real problem it caused was inconvenience to Shell’s customers. But in the future, if something isn’t done to correct the supply chain problem, it could result in chaos.
One of the problems is that Canada’s big oil companies can’t easily import fuel if they run low because a refinery breaks down. Experts say government regulations make it too difficult. The government can relax those rules to allow the importation of gas from another country – but only if there’s a national emergency.