Winter’s coming. So is WinterGas™
October 31, 2008
In the next few weeks, most parts of Canada will start to see the return of WinterGas™ to our retail sites. In fact, someone asked about this not to long ago in a comment to one of Jon’s posts. So, I thought I’d provide a bit of an update for everyone.
In Western Canada, WinterGas™ will be available on November 18th and in Central and Eastern Canada WinterGas™ is available on December 2nd until the early part of March. But what does that mean? What makes winter fuels different from other parts of the year, and why are they needed?
The answer really comes in two parts. First, Petro-Canada’s fuels undergo regular fine-tuning over the course of the year. In fact, these adjustments may take place as frequently as every two weeks in some parts of Canada. For gasoline, WinterGas™ has what’s called a higher RVP, or vapour pressure. Essentially, gasoline in winter months needs to be more volatile to help your engine start more quickly.
For diesel, a measure commonly known as the “cloud point” becomes critical. As diesel fuel cools, it begins to crystallize at a specific temperature – that temperature defines the cloud point. As crystals form, the filters in your engine become plugged. Fuel suppliers need to create a diesel fuel that has cloud point low enough that even on the coldest mornings, your engine’s filters remain clear and your vehicle will still start.
These unique requirements to meet the needs of our climate also help respond to some who have asked why, as a large national wholesaler, we can’t just bring fuels in from other locations to cover a shortage as happens from time to time. The answer is that sometimes we can, and that can been an important part of a solution as we’ve seen over the last few months.
However, it’s not always that easy. Fuels from one region of the country to another, or from other markets like the U.S. may be of little use in parts of Canada at certain times of the year. Simply put, a diesel fuel that works fine in Southern California or Arizona, or on Vancouver Island for that matter does not have the same properties as what is needed to start your engine in Winnipeg in the dead of winter.
The other characteristics of WinterGas™ come from the unique additives that are included in Petro-Canada’s gasoline during the winter months. In an earlier post, I mentioned there are a number of steps that take place after the basic separation or fractionation of crude oil to reach a final product in gasoline. Among those steps is the blending of various additives that make Petro-Canada’s gas different from others in the marketplace. For WinterGas™, these additives include Petro-Canada’s Tactrol™ additive to help keep your engine clean, and a gas-line anti-freeze that keeps the fuel moving when temperatures start to drop.
As important as these changes are over the course of the winter months, wouldn’t life be easier if the only concern with winter driving was the fuel you put in the car. It doesn’t seem to matter where you are when winter hits, we’ve all seen how many accidents unfortunately happen the first time the snow arrives for the season. So, this year, before that happens, check out some of these sites that offer tips on winter driving. Here, here and here.
Your local Ministry of Transportation may also provide up to the moment road conditions for major highways throughout the winter. For example, in Ontario, the Ministry of Transportation offers this service through the ministry website.
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