Ontario Trucking Association

Ontario Trucking Association

February 22, 2007 05:30 ET

Ontario Truckers Call Upon Feds to Allow Off-Road Grade Diesel Fuel To Be Used in Trucks on Temporary Basis

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Feb. 22, 2007) - The Ontario Trucking Association is calling upon the federal government to temporarily allow the production and distribution of diesel fuel used in off-road applications to be used in trucks. OTA made the request in writing to federal environment minister, John Baird last night following a day of diesel fuel rationing, pump and station closures and double digit price increases brought on by supply problems at Imperial Oil. According to OTA president, David Bradley, "Trucks are the lifeblood of the Ontario economy hauling 90% of all consumer products and foodstuffs and 75% of the province's trade with the US. The industry is solely dependent upon diesel fuel. Should the current situation persist or get worse, the impact on the Ontario economy could be enormous."

Bradley says OTA has always shied away from regulation of fuel prices, and admits that even if there were a regulatory or legislative solution it couldn't be introduced and passed in time to resolve the situation the industry is now experiencing. So, it is looking for other ways the federal and provincial governments could help. "It is OTA's understanding that the current supply crisis in Ontario could be resolved if on a temporary basis oil companies were allowed to resume producing and selling diesel fuel with 500 ppm sulphur content to the trucking industry," he says. Truck diesel fuel with 500 ppm sulphur content was the industry standard up until October of last year when a new Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel (ULSD) standard which caps the sulphur content at 15 ppm was mandated by the federal government. Diesel fuel with sulphur content of 500 ppm and above is still used in off-road applications like rail and agricultural machinery.

According to OTA, this measure would be consistent with the strategy employed by the US federal government to ensure adequate fuel supply in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. At that time, coloured fuel (typically off-road grade with greater than 500 ppm sulphur content) was temporarily allowed for use in on-road applications.

According to Bradley, "There is no discounting the environmental benefits of ULSD - but we may already be in crisis mode where trucking operations are beginning to find it difficult to obtain diesel to fuel their trucks. Were that to happen, the impact on the economy would make the current service disruptions in the rail sector look like a tea party." There would have to be some ULSD available for the new 2007 model year truck engines, he says, but at this time there are relatively few of those in operation.

Starting two days ago, trucking companies started receiving a letter from the Vice-President & General Manager, Fuels Marketing at Imperial Oil, alerting them to the fact the company has due to "unexpected operating events and transportation challenges" had to apportion distillate fuel (diesel and home heating oil) and gasoline to customers in Ontario on a priority basis. However, beyond saying that it hopes that the Nanticoke refinery currently shut down because of a fire is expected to resume production before the end of month, and that it hopes to resolve current issues as soon as possible, Imperial Oil is not saying when it expects things to return to normal.

"Right now, all trucking companies can do is scramble to find fuel and pass along the increased costs to their customers," says Bradley. "Shippers should expect a spike-up in their carrier's fuel surcharges. If the truckers can't get fuel or if they can't pass on increased costs, they are out of business, and if they are out of business, Ontario's economy stops. It is not a good situation."

The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) is a business association representing motor carriers operating into, out of and within Ontario. The trucking industry is one of Ontario's largest employers. Trucks haul 90% of all consumer products and foodstuffs produced and consumed in the province and 80% of Ontario's trade with the United States. Founded in 1926, the association's membership comprises trucking companies of all sizes, shipping all types of commodities, from all regions of North America. OTA is a member of the Canadian Trucking Alliance.

Contact Information

  • Ontario Trucking Association
    Doug Switzer
    Manager, Government Relations
    (416) 249-7401 Ext. 238
    1-866-713-4188 (FAX)