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CALGARY, Alberta, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Planned and unplanned refinery outages have combined to create a shortage of diesel fuel in Western Canada, leaving some truck stops with no supplies, industry officials said.
Among companies with units off line are Petro-Canada PCA.TO, whose Edmonton, Alberta, refinery has been in a major turnaround since this summer, and Suncor Energy Inc SU.TO, whose oil sands plant is currently pumping none of the fuel, officials with the refiners said.
Imperial Oil Ltd IMO.TO said it is rationing diesel supplies to customers in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta amid planned work on an atmospheric tower at its 187,000 barrel a day Strathcona refinery at Edmonton.
“For Petro-Canada it’s largely a demand issue. Demand has come from elsewhere and really overtaken our ability to keep up,” spokesman Jon Hamilton said.
“We also had arrangements for third-party supply to get us through this, which haven’t come to fruition.”
The company’s 135,000 barrel a day refinery is shut down so it can tie in new equipment as part of a C$2.4 billion ($2.1 billion) refit. The plant is expected to begin starting up again at the end of the month.
The diesel shortages, which affect numerous industrial sectors, follow tight retail gasoline supplies in the region this summer, which led to some filling stations running out of fuel at the height of the summer driving season.
A processing unit at Suncor’s oil sands upgrading plant in northern Alberta, which normally supplies diesel to the wholesale market, suffered an unscheduled outage in August.
“We’ve had problems with a hydrotreater and we know there are problems with other suppliers,” said Brad Bellows, a spokesman for the company. “We are significantly short of diesel.”
Bellows did not say how much diesel fuel the company normally produces.
Imperial spokesman Pius Rolheiser said the Edmonton refinery should be producing at normal rates again in weeks rather than months, and that the company is importing diesel fuel. (Reporting by Jeffrey Jones and Scott Haggett; editing by Rob Wilson)
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