Gas pumps running dry and prices going up
As gasoline prices edge towards the $1 per litre mark, several Toronto filling stations ran dry as a fuel shortage continued in Toronto. It caused frustration for motorists who either could not get gas or were upset with the high price.
Several Esso and about 10 Petro-Canada stations shut off their pumps because their storage tanks were dry. Some stations with gasoline set limits on how much customers could buy.
"I drive a minivan and it's all a little bit insane," one driver told CTV's Alex Mihailovich on Sunday.
Fuel supply issues are related to two incidents at Ontario oil refineries, including one fire. Both refineries, operated by Imperial Oil, are being repaired but fuel supplies have been strained in the meantime.
The CN Rail strike has also created delivery problems for Imperial Oil, further complicating the fuel shortage. A tentative settlement has been reached and the union is encouraging its members to return to work pending the result of a ratification vote.
Fuel outages, which Esso said may be short-lived and rotating, are expected to continue at into this week.
Diesel supply for commercial customers will also be limited, but supply for home heat customers will be adequate to meet demand, Imperial Oil said.
With the economic rules of supply and demand at work, the resulting price increase has angered motorists who seem to think oil companies are simply taking advantage of the situation.
"It's really a game that the big corporate players are playing to gouge the consumer," another driver said.
Federal NDP Leader Jack Layton agrees with that opinion.
"I think, frankly, consumers are being taken advantage of by these big oil companies," Layton said Sunday.
"They've got unbelievably huge profits right now. It's not as though the cost of the fuel has gone up for them, it's just that there's a shortage."
While fuel supplies are expected to return to normal levels this week, some experts speculate that it could take as long as a month before pump prices follow suit.
Over the weekend the highest price in the city was listed as $1.06 per litre by the website Torontogasgrices.com. It also listed the lowest price as 93.9 cents per litre.
With a report from CTV's Alex Mihailovich