Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Diesel supplies dry up

District residents reliant on diesel have been thrown into turmoil after production plants at Shell's refinery in Geelong shut down.

MONIQUE PRESTON December 10, 2012 4:04am

Diesel supplies across the district have been thrown into chaos.

Problems at an oil refinery is causing headaches for district residents reliant on diesel.

Problems with two diesel production units at Shell’s refinery in Geelong early last week meant the availability of diesel has been patchy in Echuca-Moama and surrounding towns since Friday.

Echuca Shell Coles service station ran out of diesel mid-week, with many other service stations also having issues keeping up with diesel demands since Friday.

The six other Echuca-Moama service stations have had diesel at times, but high demand and only small deliveries of the fuel has meant all of them have run out of the fuel for parts of the weekend.

Yesterday afternoon four Echuca-Moama service stations had diesel on offer.

Others, like the Caltex roadhouse on the corner of the Northern Hwy and Ogilvie Ave, have had tankers deliver 7000 to 8000 litres of diesel on Friday and Saturday, but the fuel has run out before each day is over.

Caltex Safeway in Moama was the main service station with fuel on Friday, after 8000 litres was delivered at 11.30am, however it was all gone within seven hours.

Another 8000 litres was delivered to the service station yesterday, but it was not expected to last until today.

Shell spokesperson Paul Zennaro said production of diesel resumed at the Geelong refinery yesterday, but was unable to say when things would be ‘‘back to normal’’ for service stations.

‘‘(Production will) ramp up over the next 24 hours and deliveries will start quite quickly,’’ he said yesterday.

‘‘Shell expects diesel availability at Shell branded service stations to improve over the next week while the company increases deliveries.

‘‘Shell apologies to customers and is doing everything it can.’’

BP spokesman Jamie Jardine said diesel availability for his company was ‘‘very tight’’ as the Shell refinery provides an allocation of diesel to BP.

‘‘It’s making it difficult to meet orders,’’ Mr Jardine said.

He said BP was bringing diesel in from Western Australia and Queensland, but expected it to be several days before it arrived.

The diesel shortage could not have come at a worse time for farmers, with harvest in full swing throughout the district, and farmers unable to guarantee whether they will have enough fuel to run their machinery.

Echuca hay contractor and harvester Stephen McKee said the diesel shortage had thrown things into chaos.

‘‘You need diesel to run tractors and trucks,’’ he said.

Mr McKee said he had managed to stock up on diesel, but admitted it was ‘‘more panic buying’’.

He said it was not only farmers who would face problems, with potential for other businesses to have trouble getting stock delivered.

‘‘It shows how much everyone relies on things being there,’’ he said.

Tongala milk tanker driver and hobby farmer Warren John said the diesel shortage was ‘‘ridiculous’’.

He said the Caltex in Tongala had 5000 litres of diesel delivered at 8am Saturday, but it was all sold by 10am.

‘‘There was a line past Nestlé of four-wheel drives and utes,’’ he said.

Mr John said he had already stopped using his ute, which runs on diesel, and had not been able to do any tractor work on the weekend.

‘‘I’m very annoyed. I think everyone’s annoyed,’’ he said.

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