by Canadian Fuels Association

How hurricanes in the U.S. can affect Canadians at the pump

 |  Fuels, Refineries

In 2017, we watched the devastating impact of hurricane season in the Atlantic. Our thoughts were with millions of people on the islands and coastlines in the crosshairs of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose, Maria and others. As we enter peak hurricane season again this year, it’s hard not to think about the immediate and far-reaching effect that these storms can have on human life.
While nothing compares to the impact in these areas, many people are surprised to learn how a storm that’s thousands of kilometres away can affect us here in Canada – even days and weeks later. Last year, we wrote specifically about why Canada’s gasoline prices are affected by hurricanes in the U.S. Gulf.
At the time, Hurricane Harvey manoeuvered into the Gulf Coast and took aim on North America’s largest refining hub in Texas; refineries temporarily shut down as did portions of the Colonial pipeline, the largest refined product pipeline on the continent. This pipeline, which runs the entire length of the U.S. East Coast, is part of the complex network that impacts Eastern Canada as well.

[Blue lines represent pipelines that move refined petroleum product. Source: Various.]

The North American fuels market is interconnected and product moves and trades across borders to meet demand on both sides. A disruption in the Gulf Coast or along any major manufacturing or distribution network can have an eventual impact on the fuels market in both countries. Any time supply is constrained and infrastructure is affected, there is a ripple effect that might leave consumers scratching their heads and media looking for answers. It’s not widely understood exactly how connected the market is, but it’s part of understanding the factors that affect the price at the pump.
As we watch the images of these powerful storms churn in the Atlantic, our thoughts are with the people most affected – above all. We’re also mindful of the potential far-reaching impact on critical infrastructure.


Why Canada’s gasoline prices are affected by hurricanes in the U.S. Gulf
Canadian Fuels Association Blog August 2017

Fuel Distribution: Canada’s complex network
Canadian Fuels Association 

What’s up with the price of gasoline?
Canadian Fuels Association 


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