Power is back but where’s the fuel?

Josh Pennell
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With power now buzzing again through homes and businesses across the province there is still at least one thing that’s in low quantity and high demand that’s necessary for modern life – fuel.

Many gas stations on the island have been running low on fuel since the power outages last weekend. — Telegram file photo

Gasoline, oil and propane are still absent in many areas. There are parts of the island reportedly with no gas, such as the Baie Verte Peninsula, and even the metropolis of St. John’s has many gas stations that are constantly running out. There seems to be little argument that there are several reasons for this, but there is debate over the core cause.

Dave Callahan is a business owner on the west coast of the island. He owns a gas station in St. George’s. He had fuel at his station as of Thursday but he’s a rare breed in that area and he says there’s no home-heating fuel on the west coast.

Callahan says it’s a capacity problem — a problem caused predominantly by an inability to keep the fuel flowing.

“It’s the way the oil companies have left us,” he says.

There isn’t enough gas kept on the island anymore in Callahan’s opinion and certainly not enough left in areas outside the Avalon such as the west coast. The bulk of fuel is shipped to the east coast of the island and then it trickles west through liquid carriers such as Seaboard, he adds.

Seaboard has come under some scrutiny during this time for not getting gas out quick enough. Over Christmas, prior to any blackout or argument about fuel delivery slowing because of it, there were gas stations around St. John’s running out of fuel — and not because the fuel wasn’t nearby but because it wasn’t delivered.

Callahan says Seaboard is just at the end of the chain of command and shouldn’t be ultimately blamed. The government has failed by not having a mechanism in place to make oil companies store more fuel here and in more strategic places around the province so delivery distances aren’t so long and arduous.

NDP MHA George Murphy says there aren’t enough drivers working for Seaboard and the reason for it is money.

“They’re just not paying the wages,” he says.

Recently he saw eight job postings for the company and he says it has 17 drivers — not enough to service the island during periods of high demand such as the holidays or during an extended blackout.

“If they paid $25 an hour as a starting wage, they’d get people to look back at them.”

The Telegram made several calls to Seaboard over several days. None were returned.




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