No Prairie farm fuel shortages expected in pandemic

Continuity plans in place to keep fuel moving

Prairie farmers shouldn’t see a disruption to their farm fuel distribution as a result of COVID-19 safety measures.

“Our members are committed to minimizing disruptions to the Canadian fuel supply as a result of the pandemic response,” Canadian Fuels Association spokesperson Jason Vaillant said in an email.

“Our members are working tirelessly to maintain operations while keeping our employees and communities safe through this challenging time.”

Association members have all activated their existing business continuity plans in response to the pandemic.

Federated Co-operatives, now in the midst of a labour lockout as well as pandemic protocols at its Regina fuel refinery, said Wednesday its on-site work camp “will continue to ensure that the temporary operations personnel on site are isolated” and not travelling in and out of the facility.

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FCL on Tuesday also announced it would defer the refinery’s spring turnaround until at least May 15. The turnaround “typically sees an influx of hundreds of additional workers on site.”

The Co-op Refinery Complex (CRC) is part of Saskatchewan’s critical infrastructure network, FCL said, and “wants to assure residents that the refinery will continue to produce fuel during this time.”

FCL also said March 6 it had already launched early spring delivery of fuel to Prairie farmers. Ron Healey, the co-op’s vice-president of ag and consumer business, said “we have positioned fuel to be as close to our farm customers as possible.”

Alberta’s UFA, one of Canada’s largest distributors of fuel for the agriculture industry, has increased cleaning in all of its stores and facilities. And while the co-operative has seen increased demand for products such as cleaning supplies and face masks, fuel supplies so far seem unaffected.

But that could change, Vaillant added.

“This is a very dynamic situation, and we will continue to monitor and respond accordingly,” he said.

“We are part of Canada’s critical infrastructure, and we will continue to work collaboratively with federal and provincial governments to maintain the operation of refineries, terminals, and the fuel supply chain.

“Our focus remains on continuing to provide secure and reliable access to transportation fuels for Canadians.”

— Jennifer Blair reports for Alberta Farmer from Red Deer. Includes files from Glacier FarmMedia Network staff.

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