“It’s not a fuel shortage per se, but we have a real bottleneck on the Malahat. “
Difficulties in transporting gasoline by truck on the Malahat were causing shortages, said Peninsula Co-op director of operations Erik Gault, who pleaded with motorists to stay off the highway.
“It’s not a fuel shortage per se,” he said, “but we have a real bottleneck on the Malahat”.
All the gas companies will be in the same boat, he said.
Leithan Slade of Suncor, owner of Petro-Canada, echoed Gault in saying that there is no shortage of gas on Vancouver Island, just a challenge to get it through the Malahat. “There are a few sites in Victoria that are low on fuel, and we are working to fill them up as soon as possible. “
Stations on Vancouver Island are supplied with unloaded gas at five terminals north of Malahat. Shell has a tank farm at Bare Point near Chemainus, while Imperial Oil (Esso) and Suncor (Petro-Can) have terminals in Nanaimo. Parkland Fuel has terminals at Port Hardy and Hatch Point in Cobble Hill.
Normally, Peninsula Co-op would see four to eight loads of fuel coming south each day, but none went from Sunday to Tuesday, thanks to the storm. Since then, only one or two trucks have driven down the Malahat each day.
The highway is closed for repairs from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. until Monday, with single-lane alternating traffic the rest of the time. “There just isn’t enough room on the road, nor enough hours in the day,” Gault said, adding that it’s important that non-essential traffic stays off the road so that vehicles delivering food, fuel and other essential supplies can pass. “The more trucks we can get through, the better off we’ll be. “
It’s not a long-term shortage, he said. Anyone who can wait a few days does not need to refuel.
Until then, however, it will be a matter of restocking stations as best they can, with fuel loads distributed among the locations.
On Fairfield Road at 1:00 p.m., a line of 50 or more cars starting at Fairfield Petro-Can backed up several blocks in the westbound lane. Not all the drivers wanted gasoline; some were just trying to get past the line, but the construction along the street made it difficult for many to escape.
Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, said Wednesday the province is working with distributors and transportation companies to establish new routes to get gasoline and other goods to where they are needed.
“We will be monitoring and working very closely to ensure that fuel supplies get to where they are needed,” he said. “And that will really be a priority in terms of future work. “
BC Ferries said it was adding a round trip on Thursday to move essential cargo and travelers between Duke Point and Swartz Bay. The Coastal Celebration, which can accommodate the equivalent of around 310 cars and 1,604 passengers, will be used for navigation.