Premier asks suppliers to keep gas flowing during pipeline shutdown

Manitoba’s premier is urging gas suppliers to refrain from “hoarding” gasoline following an unplanned pipeline shutdown in the province earlier this week.

“We need to ensure that there is a regular entry into the province of 50,000 barrels a day,” Premier Wab Kinew said Thursday. “But we also need to make sure that supply is being distributed equitably across the different regions who need it, and across the different sectors of the economy.”

Kinew said his government has told oil and gas companies they need to provide access to suppliers and distributors, so gas station pumps don’t go dry.

“What you’re seeing right now is a result of market inefficiencies,” Kinew said.

Kinew’s plea to gas companies comes days after Imperial Oil announced a three-month shutdown of a pipeline carrying gas, diesel, and jet fuel from Gretna to Winnipeg. The shutdown is in order to do preventative maintenance. Fuel is being transported into Manitoba by train cars and truck as a result.

The premier said Manitoba officials are working alongside the Federal Competition Bureau to ensure fuel is available throughout the province.

“This is not a situation that I think any of us were expecting for spring,” Kinew said. “But given the hand that we’ve been dealt, we’re playing our cards in such a way that we’re leaning on the big oil and gas companies to ensure that there are good prices and adequate supply for you, the people of Manitoba.”

Kinew acknowledged gas prices have gone up this week, but said that is due to an increase to global oil prices. He said his government is keeping a close eye on global oil prices – and its impact at the pumps.

“And if we start to see that locally because of this pipeline situation, then our government is going to take further steps to keep gas affordable for you.”

Kinew’s NDP government introduced a 4-cent-per-litre provincial gas tax holiday on January 1 – but the premier hasn’t committed to extending it past the current July 1 deadline. Kinew said Manitobans can expect an update in the upcoming budget on April 2.

– With files from CTV’s Jeff Keele

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