Gas shortage in Nova Scotia leads to ‘complete insanity’ for station owners

3 09 2015

Hughie MacEachern says it was ‘complete insanity’ when his pumps went dry Sunday evening

CBC News Posted: Aug 31, 2015 3:27 PM AT Last Updated: Aug 31, 2015 4:51 PM AT

The manager of the Irving station in Pictou said on Sunday there were lineups a dozen cars deep on either side of the road to get into his station.

The manager of the Irving station in Pictou said on Sunday there were lineups a dozen cars deep on either side of the road to get into his station. (Facebook)

Drivers aren’t the only ones feeling the pinch of a gasoline shortage in Nova Scotia as filling station owners weather the pressures of lost business and upset customers.

Hughie MacEachern, the manager of an Irving station in Pictou, said his pumps went dry at about 6:00 p.m. on Sunday.

“Pretty much from the time my employee opened the store at 8 o’clock, there was heavy flow of traffic going through here,” he said Monday.

“It was complete insanity. I actually came in on my day off yesterday to help him out for about six hours.”

late delivery of gasoline to the Imperial Oil terminal in Dartmouth has caused many filling stations across the province to run out of fuel.

MacEachern said for most of the day, there were lineups a dozen cars long on either side of the road to get into his station. He believes his station was the only one in the town with gasoline for much of the day.

Pictou Irving

Traffic was at a standstill as cars tried to get into the Irving station in Pictou. (Facebook)

People were coming from all areas of Pictou County to fuel up, MacEachern said, and the customers were a mix of travellers and local residents concerned about the shortage.

“It can turn into a bad situation if fuel gets really low, especially when you get people who travel long distances for work, people in health care, like travelling nurses who rely on fuel, emergency vehicles, ambulances, cruisers for town police and RCMP,” he said.

‘Nobody was violent’

Some of his customers waited a half an hour or more for their turn at the pumps, but MacEachern said no one got out of hand.

“When you get gas panics like this you always worry a little bit,” he said. “But nobody was violent, just a lot of upset people.”

Gerald Burgess, who owns an independent filling station in Fall River outside Halifax, said his station ran out of fuel about 4:30 p.m. on Sunday. He said his phone has been ringing non-stop since the gas shortage hit.

“Today we’re just turning people away and telling them we’ve called around to find out who else has gas so we can we can send our customers to those people,” he said.

He is hoping for a delivery on Tuesday.

Even when the gas comes, Burgess said, his station won’t make money this week. The price decrease last week hit him hard because he bought his supply just before the price drop.

Burgess said overall, people have been understanding about the shortage. One man suggested limiting customers to $20 worth of gasoline so more people could have some.

He wonders about the reason for the shortage.

‘Not even a storm’

“It really seems strange we run out of product when there’s not even a crisis anywhere, not even a storm. It makes you wonder who’s controlling the gas,” he said. “It just makes you wonder if the big guys are controlling it.”

Gerald Burgess

Gerald Burgess questions the reason for the fuel shortage. (CBC)

MacEachern said some managers at other filling stations in Pictou County have been told it could be Wednesday or Thursday before they are restocked. His Irving station is expecting a fuel delivery between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Monday.

“I’ve been a manager for three years and I’ve never completely run out of fuel. I’ve run out of regular on several occasions but never completely out of regular and supreme,” he said.

Dave Collins, vice-president of Wilson Fuel Co. Limited, said he suspects it could be five days before all stations across the province are resupplied with gasoline.

MacEachern says it’s not good for business, but he’s one of the lucky ones because he can rely on a large convenience store that is part of the filling station until the fuel arrives.

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