Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Fuel Prices

Ontario in the past few weeks has been hit with two un related events that have caused a signficant effect on our lives. See Ontario Travel The strike by the rail workers and the refinery fire have created an artificial scarcity of fuel. Things are not in dire straights but it should act as a wake up call for many people.

Our culture and a huge portion of our economy in Canada are based upon transportation of goods. We are hugely dependant on fuel both diesel and gasoline. If our supply chains are disrupted the very least for many people is an inconvenience for others it can be harsh. With the combination of the strike and the fuel shortage many workers have be temporarily laid off because the raw components of the manufacturing industry have not been able to get to the factories. Food distibution becomes an issue. People start stocking up on various products and shortages develop.

I was at the gas station the other night and they were all out of regular gas and were nearly out of premium. The cashier wasn't sure when their next delivery would come in. A minor inconvenience but the price of gas had increased as well. Supply and demand. My point is that we take the solidity of our supply lines for granted. This example is minor and looks like it will be solved in a few days. Something larger could create a nation wide problem that lasts far longer and has a much more resounding impact.

Some simple precautions are a good idea for anyone who depends on transportation networks for their survival. Simple things like having a full can of gasoline on hand (remember to cycle it through the vehicle and refill once in a while) , buy a little extra canned food every grocery shopping. The government recommends having 72 hours worth of supplies on hand. Not a bad idea. Better to have 14 days worth of food. Canned goods, dry goods, rice and dried peas etc. The government's suggestion is based on a electrical outage for 72 hours. I am refering more to a fuel shortage.

Most people can grasp the idea that some shortages can occur, but it is another step to realize that shortages will mean not only do prices increase but there may not be any fuel or food available for some time. Our parents generation had experience with shortages during the war and the Great Depression. We have only heard some of their sories and have little first hand experience. I don't wish to be alarmist but I do think it is a good idea to stock up a bit (food, water, fuel) when we can.

www.ontariotravelsite.ca has links to various related topics.