Newfoundland and LabradorNewfoundland and Labrador news
Updated: Thu, 09 Jan 2014 09:46:41 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Propane cost soars amid shortage; gas prices drop



The Come By Chance refinery is expected to closed for two months. CBC

The Come By Chance refinery is expected to closed for two months. CBC

The cost of propane across Newfoundland and Labrador jumped by more than five cents per litre on Thursday, even as many customers were finding it difficult to find any. 

The Public Utilities Board approved a rise in the maximum price for propane heating fuel by 5.2 cents per litre. 

North Atlantic Refining, which operates the Come By Chance refinery, has been having troubles with production since last weekend's Newfoundland-wide collapse of the electrical system knocked out its power. The company was hoping to resume production by the end of this week.

Meanwhile, North Atlantic's consumer operation is dealing with a massive backlog of calls for service, again connected to the power outages. 

Derek Miller, a North Atlantic manager, told CBC News that the company has to deal with the 5,000 calls that have been received. He said the phone system that handles 25 lines into the call centre went down twice.

"All the while that we're calling people back, we have calls coming in," said Miller.

"We take in here, roughly between 500 calls a day that we deal with, and beside that we may get anywhere between 100 to 150 calls that go to our voicemail or to our offline call centre — and then we have to get back to those people," he said Thursday. 

"We're trying very, very hard to catch up on everything else."

Shortage of propane in province

Miller told CBC that the company is low on propane. .  

"We lost the power at the refinery when the power failed on Saturday — and consequently we couldn't make any more propane," said Miller.

"We supply propane to the other two suppliers on the island as well, and when we don't have propane we have to import it," he said, adding that high winds have derailed Marine Atlantic's ferry schedule. 

"We had lined-up trucks in North Sydney [since Tuesday] getting ready to come to the island, for Superior [Propane], Irving and ourselves, and because of the weather, the boats couldn't sail."  

Miller said as soon as five trucks can arrive on the island, the propane they are carrying will be distributed. 

Gas, oil prices down

The PUB, in its weekly price setting, brought relief to gas consumers and those who rely on oil to heat their homes. 

Maximum gas prices dropped by as much as four cents per litre, while diesel dropped by as much as 3.5 cents per litre. Price changes vary slightly around the province because of rounding for taxes. 

Furnace oil dropped by 2.23 cents per litre, and stove oil dropped by 3.22 cents per litre. 

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