Nanticoke refinery returns to full capacity
Repairs to Imperial Oil's refinery in Nanticoke have been completed, but motorists who have been shelling out big bucks for gasoline lately may not see lower prices right away.
The company announced Thursday the refinery is returning to full capacity following a fire last month that cut production and caused massive fuel shortages across Ontario.
"The supply situation in Ontario continues to improve as the system rebalances," Imperial Oil stated on it website Thursday. "Esso retail service stations continue to be restocked and diesel supply to industrial and commercial customers is improving."
But officials say it may take a few days until all retail outlets are fully stocked.
The production announcement came as prices jumped to nearly $1.10 per litre at gas stations in the Greater Toronto Area, a painful cost for parents doing a lot of driving on March break.
The Feb. 15 fire at the Nanticoke refinery crippled production, and many Esso stations ran out of fuel entirely.
The situation also caused shortages at competitors Shell and Petro-Canada.
Drivers saw gas prices soar from the mid-80-cent range.
But Imperial spokesperson Robert Theberge downplayed the connection between the refinery fire and the price hike.
"Gas prices are affected by international markets and those are outside our control," he told the Toronto Star. "We have said all along that we have not changed our strategy on pricing."
But once the supply returns to normal, analysts say prices will likely fall by a few cents.
Experts also say the high prices are based on the international markets and the weakening U.S. economy.
Liberal MP Dan McTeague, a vocal opponent of the fluctuating gas costs, claims prices in Toronto have been jacked up several cents, simply for profit.
"Tell Canadians the truth, tell motorists the truth, that in fact they're taking advantage of us by the tune of 5, 6 cents a litre today, and they can pretty much do it at any time," McTeague said.
"Imperial Oil is the price leader in this region and perhaps it wants to recoup some money it lost in the January period when inventories were high and the prices were a lot more moderate."
With a report from CTV's Chris Eby