As much as it was an act of nature and not in any way an attempt to be malicious amid growing public anger over unstable gas prices, a shortage of gasoline sent a strong message throughout the province over the holiday weekend.
Numerous gas stations in the province ran out of gas over the weekend because of a power outage at a Dartmouth refinery caused by a July 21 thunderstorm. The refinery normally supplies diesel and gasoline to all types of gas stations across the province.
To minimize any future disruptions to the gas supply Imperial Oil, the owners of the refinery, took the step of moving up its annual maintenance shutdown that’s normally scheduled in August.
The timing of it couldn’t have come at a worse time, however. Not only was it the summer long weekend throughout much of the province, it was also the Natal Day weekend in Halifax and coincided with the U2 concert at Moncton’s Magnetic Hill.
As much as experts were urging people to stay at home to take the pressure off the market, it’s pretty hard to tell people to remain in their homes when there’s so much going on and so little time before the end of the summer tourist season.
It has to be concerning that shutting down the Dartmouth refinery can have this kind of impact on the travelling public and should make many wonder about the practicality of having a reserve on hand for occurrences such as this.
Natural events like thunderstorms do occur and lightning strikes and power transmission sometimes don’t mix, as evidenced by the storm. Should we as consumers be afraid that shortages such as what took place over the weekend could occur everytime Mother Nature shows her fury through either a thunderstorm or blizzard?
It’s pretty difficult to tell a large, successful company such as Imperial Oil how to conduct its business, but it would make sense to have a supply of gasoline on hand should the unthinkable occur. This was only a minor blip on the inconvenience scale for most. Can you imagine if something major were to occur causing those short-term gas shortages to be more frequent and longer lasting?