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Petro-Can's FCC woes continue

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    Charles Randall

    <This is becoming a textbook example for downside economics on FCC shutdown problems – CER>
    Petro-Cans cat cracker woes continue

    Doug McIntyre  Sun Media  Tuesday August 26, 2008
    Pumps are now dry at as many as 90 gas stations in B.C. and Alberta due to a breakdown at Petro-Canada’s Edmonton refinery, which the company hopes could be repaired by next week.

    But even if the facility’s catalytic cracking unit, or cat cracker, is up and running soon, it will still take time for the refinery to reach full production capacity. The device, critical to rendering crude into higher-yield fuels, broke down Aug. 3 and is being serviced around the clock by 120 workers.

    Even when it does return to production, it will take time to replenish gasoline inventories and start returning our network back to normal, said Jon Hamilton, Petro-Canada’s director of downstream communications. The mad scramble to meet supply demands saw Petro-Canada’s expanded truck fleet deliver 200,000 litres of gasoline daily late last week from Vancouver to its distribution terminal in Kamloops, B.C.

    That meant the company was able to quadruple deliveries in B.C. and Alberta. The company is also trying to boost its supplies by looking to its other Canadian refineries and to the United States and overseas. Nevertheless, the number of stations running dry has increased since the supply pinch begun, spokesman Kelli Stevens said.

    Petro-Canada was reportedly holding a conference call last week with independent retailers eager to demand compensation for the business hit they have incurred. However, Stevens said any financial details will be considered after the crisis passes, adding company liaisons have been in constant contact with gas station owners caught in the lurch.

    At least one company that operates independent gas stations that buy fuel from Petro-Canada is temporarily closing at least four stations in Alberta because of the shortages. We were able to get through last weekend with some temporary runouts, said John Schroeder, vice-president of Parkland Income Trust, which runs about 225 Fas Gas, Fas Gas Plus and Race Track gas stations in Western Canada.

    Weve decided that were better off to temporarily close a small number of stations, Schroeder said. The stations closing are in urban centres such as Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer.

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