Churchill Gasoline Shortage Resolved

The first winter I spent on Cape Cod the Cumberland Farms convenience store ran out of milk in the middle of a two day snowstorm. I was in awe that a store in a developed, though somewhat remote, area could run out of such a basic life staple. Churchill, a very remote location by most standards, had a slightly bigger problem …no gasoline for three days.

A look outside the Churchill Northern Studies Center. Donna Kelber photo.

A look outside the Churchill Northern Studies Center. Donna Kelber photo.

Details of the “shortage” are somewhat sketchy. At what was first construed as a gas shortage was later confirmed by Mayor Mike Spence as a “interruption in service” between town and the 50 million liter tank farm which is only seven kilometers outside of town adjacent to the Port of Churchill. Both facilities are owned by Omnitrax company out of Denver, CO.

Taxi’s were forced to shut down and town vehicles were being garaged and saved for only emergency usage. The town’s only gas station remained closed for the three days.

Petrol service has since been restored and Mayor Spence has vowed that the issue won’t arise again. He and the town are working with Omnitrax to insure service workers will be available to transport fuel from the storage tanks to the gas station.

Tank farm and Port of Churchill, Manitoba

Port of Churchill with four fuel tanks in the background.

In a location where weather conditions are extreme on a fairly regular basis, the inability to travel across town to the grocery store, work or hospital becomes vital. Even though Churchill is tiny compared to other towns in the world, the winter conditions make a short 10 minute walk across town feel like traveling cross-country.

Keeping out of the political side of this mishap, it serves as an example of how precious fuel resources in the world are and how we all should treat them as such. Most of us do not think twice about being able to drive five minutes and fill our car’s gas tank. If we all had to experience life without fuel for three days it might serve as an excellent reminder of how valuable these resources are. Maybe reassessing trips we all make in our automobiles should be a goal for this year ahead.

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