Fort Chipewyan residents asked to conserve fuel as community faces gas shortage

·3 min read
The gas pump at Chief's Corner. The community is limiting fuel consumption until fuel shipments start coming in over the winter road. (Submitted by Chief's Corner - image credit)
The gas pump at Chief's Corner. The community is limiting fuel consumption until fuel shipments start coming in over the winter road. (Submitted by Chief's Corner - image credit)

Residents in Fort Chipewyan are being asked to carpool, stop idling and limit their gas usage, as the community grapples with a fuel shortage.

Dan Gallagher, CEO of the Mikisew Group of Companies, said the gas shortage is partly due to a large amount of construction in Fort Chipewyan that's resulted in "lower than usual [levels] for this time of year."

The Group operates Fort Petroleum, the company in charge of Fort Chipewyan's fuel tanks.

Requests and restrictions went out to residents in the area, like encouraging carpooling, limiting idling and limiting gas to 40 litres per person per fill up.

There are exceptions to the restriction. Because the winter road to Fort McMurray only opened Wednesday, those traveling to the town can fuel up to make sure they have a safe trip. The road is only open to light vehicles at this time, not fuel trucks.

Fort Chipewyan is about 270 kilometres north of Fort McMurray.

The restrictions and requests went in around Dec. 10, said Gallagher.

"The community really responded and they've been doing a great job," he said.

Gallagher said he thinks the winter road construction is ahead of schedule and the weather has been "co-operating."

"We don't anticipate any issues whatsoever with getting our tanks filled," said Gallagher.

He added there is no concern with the fuel for furnaces. The issue is limited to gas. He expects the first fuel truck to be driving up the winter road as early as Monday.

Calvin Waquan, general manager for operations of Chief's Corner — the community's only gas station — added to the Mikisew Group of Companies's rules.

Waquan said residents are now limited to $50 of gas per fill-up, unless they are travelling out of the community, and he's made it store policy not to give out gas for recreational use.

The gas pump is also closed at 6 p.m.

He said there's a "nasty habit of people driving around just to drive around," and he's hoping these restrictions will help limit that until the winter road is strong enough to bring in more fuel.

"Holidays started last Friday and it kind of forced people to stay home with their family and friends so they can enjoy the holidays," said Waquan. "So now we see less traffic moving around in town."

Because of the winter road opening, Waquan is letting people who are travelling out of town to fill up to ¾ of a tank or a full tank of gas.

"I want to get you there in a safe way," said Waquan.

He's encouraging anyone leaving town to fill up before coming back, and to bring extra gas in jerrycans.

He believes that these measures will be enough to hold over the community until the loads of fuel can start coming up the winter road.

"I'm kind of being Grinch-y… because I need to be cognisant of the gas levels in town and getting people out in a safe manner for holidays," said Waquan.

"We're just trying to work in partnership with Mikisew Cree to actually get us to that winter road," said Waquan.

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