Shell rationing gasoline, diesel in Western Canada

Tue Feb 12, 2008 1:02pm EST
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CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell Plc's refinery in Alberta is running at reduced rates, forcing the company to ration fuel to its own Western Canadian retail network and to commercial customers, a spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

There is no indication yet when the 98,000 barrel a day Scotford refinery near Edmonton will be back at full rates, Shell spokeswoman Jana Masters said.

Masters declined to say how much fuel the plant is producing or whether mechanical problems were causing the fuel shortages, which are affecting Saskatchewan, Alberta and northern British Columbia.

"I can't give you any kind of number but I can tell you that Shell has initiated equitable allocations on gasoline and diesel," Masters said.

Local media reports said some Saskatchewan gas stations have reported low inventories.

The refinery is supplied by the adjacent Scotford upgrader, which turns oil sands-derived crude into synthetic oil. Masters said she could not comment on the operations of the upgrader.

That plant was shut down for much of November and December following a fire.

Petro-Canada's refining and retail operations in Western Canada have not been negatively affected by the Shell situation, said Kelli Stevens, Petro-Canada spokeswoman.

"Supplies are getting tight but we haven't had to put any restricted allocations on our retail pickup," Stevens said.

(Reporting by Jeffrey Jones; Editing by Rob Wilson)