The Great Spring Swap-Out!

The days are getting longer. The snow banks have disappeared and you’re tempted to put your snow shovel back in the garage for the season. But would that be tempting fate? Is that one last fierce winter storm just waiting for you to let down your guard… and prematurely swap out your trusty winter tires?

There’s lots of great guidance out there about when to make the changeover from your winter tires to your all-seasons or summer tires, and the general consensus from experts is the old “7 degree Celsius” guideline: make the switch when the average daily temperature looks to be staying above 7 degrees Celsius, in order to maintain the best traction, and preserve the life of your tread.

If only the weather was, well, predictable. It’s a fine balance. It’s a tricky gamble. And every year it’s a little bit different. Get the timing just right and you’re driving into the warmer weather maximizing your tires’ tread and feeling like a genius. Miss the magic window and you’re either wearing out your precious winter rubber on squishy-feeling tires, or caught slip-and-sliding though a late-season blizzard.

Man changing tires

I don’t like guesswork when it comes to my tires: their maintenance is crucial from a safety point of view and also, they’re expensive! I make sure to inspect their condition and pressure at the beginning of each month, and before any road trips. Making the spring swap at the best possible time has become a little bit of a personal obsession. So, beginning in mid-March, I start looking at the longer-range weather forecasts, consulting various sources to determine when that temperature shift will happen. Some forecasters go a little further than others, and will give you their best guess for a couple of weeks ahead (along with predictions based on historical data).

I use my car for a variety of obligations: local errands, visits to family (less local), and regular commutes to the big city a few hours away, and I need know well in advance when I’m going to be without my car for a few hours. Local garages can fill up their slots pretty quickly this time of year, so it’s important to be on top of it and plan ahead. So, I do my research, make my appointment, try not to second-guess myself and hope for the best!

Car going through car wash

Of course, spring is also a fantastic time to schedule my oil change/maintenance along with my tire swap. On those magical years (when the temperature shift aligns with my regular maintenance requirement) it can all happen in one trip to the garage. While I’m at it, I like to clean out the trunk and interior, and treat the car to a little love at my local Petro-Canada car wash. It’s been a tough winter, and it’s been through a lot:-)

How do you decide when to make the tire switch? Do you watch the weather like a hawk, or pick the same date every year? How often do you get it just right? Leave your tips and stories in the comments below!

~ Paul D


Why are Gas Prices So Darn High?

My weather app used to be the first thing I opened on my phone in the morning. These days, it’s GasBuddy. Over the last month, like the rest of the world, I’ve watched the price per litre rise quickly. And like the rest of the world (including my family who keep texting me about prices – give it a rest, Uncle Jim), I’ve wondered why.

Let’s break it down.

Hand holding a fuel nozzle at a gas pump and filling their car

As you know, gasoline is refined from crude oil. And the price for crude oil, the price that refineries pay, is set on a global market. Not local, but global. That means that events and factors across the world, not just here at home, affect the price of crude, which in turn affects the price of gasoline.

I live in BC and most of our gasoline is refined nearby in Burnaby (BC), Edmonton (AB) or Washington state. It’s difficult to internalize that events halfway around the world impact the price of gas at my local station.

Supply and Demand

What events and factors have an impact? Any threat to the supply of crude makes the price go up – that’s the economic principle of supply and demand. Russia is one of the largest oil and gas producers in the world, so when the supply of crude that they provide to the world is put into question, as has happened with their invasion of Ukraine, the global market responds.

However, even before the conflict, another major factor was already putting pressure on the market: global demand for gasoline was on the rise. Across the world, we’re emerging from two years of pandemic restrictions. People are returning to workplaces, going out more, starting to travel again – en masse. But, during the pandemic when demand was significantly lower, several oil and gas companies across the world slowed down their production (including capping wells and laying off employees) to try to stay in business. Our global supply of oil was already low.

This combination of an accelerated demand increase plus an already low supply, which may become even lower, has created a perfect storm for an unprecedented rise in crude prices.

Not Just Crude Prices

In addition to the cost of crude oil, which makes up about half of the price of retail gasoline, there are three other costs that determine the price of gas:

  1. Refining costs
  2. Distribution and marketing costs
  3. Taxes by federal, provincial and municipal governments (including a planned increase in the federal carbon tax on April 1st ).

Inflation is at a 30-year high in Canada, surpassing 5%. This impacts the costs of goods and services. Higher inflation rates increase the cost of refining, distribution and marketing fuel; transportation is more expensive as are operating costs at both wholesale and retail locations.

What about taxes? The federal government in Canada taxes gasoline at 10 cents per litre. Each province has its own combination of sales tax, fuel tax and carbon levies which impact the price of fuel. And three municipalities – Montreal, Vancouver and Victoria – also apply taxes to gasoline. This is why per litre prices vary so much depending on where you live.

Alberta, beginning April 1st, is going to pause their 13 cents per litre provincial fuel tax. British Columbia has indicated that they will not be pausing their tax, saying that it wouldn’t impact the cost of crude which is the main driver of fuel price increases. Prince Edward Island has announced a $20 million dollar relief package to help cushion the increased cost of living, including fuel prices.  Other provinces have not yet made any official announcements.

How Long Will It Last?

How long will gas prices remain at their current level is the question on everyone’s mind. And, like most things that affect the price of crude – it’s all about supply and demand. As long as Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine, and the global boycott on the purchasing of Russian crude continues, prices will likely remain high. We’re heading into the summer driving season, a period of typically high demand – which can keep gas prices high.

However, if refineries in the Middle East or North America are able to increase their crude supply – that could ease prices – but would likely take time as these facilities ramp up production which, as I mentioned earlier, had been reduced because of the lack of demand during the pandemic.

Saving Money on Gas

There are some small things we can do to help out with the cost at the pump:

Some Final Thoughts

As you can imagine, we get a lot of questions about fuel prices. Hopefully this post has helped clarify the complexity of the global fuel market and what goes into pricing fuel.

We’ve also been asked recently about the source of the crude that Suncor, the proud owner of Petro-Canada, processes into fuel. Suncor does not process Russian crude oil at any of its refineries. And the fuel you purchase at Petro-Canada is not made from Russian oil.

Do you have other fuel-related questions? Leave them in the comments below and we’ll try to get them answered.

~Kate T.


Living Life and Taking Care of Business in the Yukon – an interview with Bobbi-Jane Kellestine

Readers, I have a confession. I’m not a fan of winter. Or cold. Or snow. I’m firmly a summer sport gal. I’d rather swim than ski, vacation on a beach rather than a mountain, and wear linen capris rather than a parka. So I have a lot of admiration for people who live in extremely cold areas.

Igloo on Fish Lake. Photo Credit: Ben Howie
Igloo on Fish Lake. Photo Credit: Ben Howie

I recently spoke with Bobbi-Jane Kellestine, the assistant manager at Dall Contracting, a residential and commercial bulk fuel distributor in the Yukon. As the youngest female bulk fuel manager in Petro-Canada’s Western network, I was keen to discuss some of the challenges with fuel distribution in Canada’s northern regions but also understand what life, in general, is like in the land of the midnight sun.

Bobbi-Jane Kellestine
Bobbi-Jane Kellestine

PT: Hi, Bobbi-Jane - thank you for taking the time to chat with me about all things Yukon! Can you tell me a bit about your journey to Canada’s north?

BK: I moved to the Yukon with my mom in 2006 from Muskoka, Ontario. While Muskoka is an amazing place to be, and I will always treasure my memories of life there, the Yukon is my Home. As the years have passed I’ve been very blessed to be able to explore so much of this captivating territory and now I couldn’t possibly imagine living anywhere else. I attended the Yukon University (then Yukon College) Health Care Attendant program. I worked various health care positions over the years but in the summer of 2019 I found myself looking for a change.

A January 2022 day in Whitehorse. So. Cold.
A January 2022 day in Whitehorse. So. Cold.

PT: How did you get started in the oil and gas business?

BK: Being a young Ojibwe woman, I was a bit hesitant to apply on a job in the petroleum industry with no previous industry experience, but I applied on a position at Dall Contracting and finally discovered my true passion. I was so lucky to have found a company like Dall that was willing to guide and counsel me as I dove headfirst into learning the inner workings of life at a bulk petroleum plant. I’ve been provided with so many fantastic resources and mentors to help me expand my knowledge of the industry that I was able to advance into a management role at our Whitehorse bulk plant.

PT: What’s the work like at Dall Contracting? What kinds of customers do you serve?

BK: We operate 5 bulk plants in Whitehorse YT, Watson Lake YT, Fort Nelson BC, Fort St John BC, and Dawson Creek BC. We provide bulk petroleum to a wide variety of industries including mining, drilling, construction, road maintenance, agriculture, automotive, forestry, and many others. Additionally, Dall Contracting sites offer commercial cardlock services, residential heating fuel deliveries, and the supply of lubricants*. In Whitehorse, we also have the distinction of being the northernmost Petro-Canada Commercial Cardlock in the Yukon Territory.

Carcross Railway Bridge. Photo Credit: Ben Howie
Carcross Railway Bridge. Photo Credit: Ben Howie

PT: What unique challenges do you face supporting your customers?

BK: On the shortest day of the year in Whitehorse, the sun rises at 11:09 AM and sets at 4:46 PM. In December we saw more than 21 days of snow, and in January local temperatures hit -45 degrees Celsius, -51 with the wind chill. Conditions like that make for a very cold, dark day at work. It’s on days like this, when nothing wants to work in the extreme weather that our drivers are called on to do just that. They face frozen equipment, deep snow drifts, difficult driving conditions, and countless other challenges to ensure that our clients as well as their homes and businesses stay safe, warm, and well cared for.

South Canol Road in the Yukon. Photo Credit: Ben Howie
South Canol Road in the Yukon. Photo Credit: Ben Howie

Avalanches, mudslides, wildfire, and flooding are all challenges we face each year in the north, both locally and through the impacts of road closures resulting from these events. We do what we can as a community to be prepared and to support one another in the aftermath but it isn’t always easy.

PT: Are there particular areas of growth that you see in the Yukon?

BK: I believe that it’s important to shop and support local with the things we use most often when it’s possible to do so, and being able to supply quality Canadian fuels is something that I take pride in. The Yukon has a fast-growing agriculture industry with more than 10,000 hectares of agriculture area. Farming in the north presents unique sets of challenges that Yukoners seem eager and ready to face. I feel that the opportunity to grow with and support the local farming community is an exciting one.

PT: What else about the Yukon would you like to share with our readers?

BK: The Yukon is home to some of the most spectacular sights and scenery in the country. We boast the world’s smallest desert in Carcross, coming in at just 1.6km2. 17 of 20 of the country’s tallest mountains are in Yukon, including Mt. Logan, Canada’s tallest peak at 5,959m. The Yukon River is Canada’s second longest river measuring 3,190km. We are so lucky to be able to live, work, and play amongst these phenomenal places. As a reward for surviving and thriving in the Yukon’s harsh winter playgrounds, we are blessed with Yukon summers. With up to 24 hours of daylight in some areas, you can really keep a good day going.

Yukon River. Photo Credit: Ben Howie
Yukon River. Photo Credit: Ben Howie

PT: Anything you miss about living in a more southern area?

BK: The Yukon doesn’t leave me wanting for much, but if I had to identify one thing I miss about living down south I’d have to say I miss experiencing warmth and darkness at the same time. There is something to be said for a nice bonfire with friends on a warm night under the moon, rather than under the Midnight Sun.

~|~

Bobbi-Jane, thank you for sharing some insight about living and working in the Yukon! And thank you to Ben Howie for letting us share some of his photos here. For more of Ben’s photos and life in the Yukon, check out our Instagram post.

~ Kate T.

*PetroCanada Branded Lubricants are supplied by PetroCanada Lubricants Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of HollyFrontier.


Staying Safe During the Daylight Saving Time Change

I’m of two minds at this time of year. I’m excited that spring is almost here: days warm up, trees sprout new growth, and outdoor patios beckon. But then I remember that to get to all that good stuff, we have to endure Daylight Saving Time – that dreaded day when clocks “spring ahead” an hour and I’m sleepy and cranky for a few days. And that day is happening this weekend (except for you lucky folks in Saskatchewan, parts of BC and the Yukon). Sigh.

Woman Yawning while Driving Car

Aside from me being cranky, there are some real impacts of the bi-annual time change. Studies have shown that time changes, both spring and fall, result in detrimental health effects as well as increased traffic accidents. But if we know the time change is coming, there are steps we can take to protect others and ourselves when we’re on the road.

  • Go to bed early all weekend. Start going to bed early on the Friday and Saturday before Daylight Saving Time kicks in - it will help your body adjust sooner.
  • A lot of us have been working remotely for the last two years. If you have the option to telecommute, the Monday after Daylight Saving Time is the time to do it. Enjoy a little more sleep and avoid potentially sleepy drivers going to and from the office.
  • Acknowledge that your body is out of whack and take a little extra time. Take a moment when you get into the car to really focus on the route you're about to take. Apparently it can take as long as two weeks for our bodies to adjust to the change in time - so be sure to keep tabs on your fatigue and avoid driving when sleepy.
  • Cut down on in-car distractions. Consider leaving the music off and if you're a coffee drinker, enjoy that java before you leave the house or after you get to work - no sipping on the road!
  • Keep it cool. If it's warm in the car, you'll feel cozy…and drowsy. Keeping the car cooler will help you stay alert. Turn down the heat or open the window for a little fresh air.
  • Focus to AND from work. You might think that the most accidents happen in the morning following Daylight Saving Time but in fact, the majority of them happened on the afternoon commute home, when your lack of sleep may really be catching up with you. Take a moment before leaving work to relax and focus on that drive home.
  • Bring the right eyewear. You may have been heading home in twilight the last few weeks and with the time change, the day will still be bright. Make sure to have your sunglasses on hand, particularly if you're driving west.

Do you have any post-Daylight Saving Time "getting back to normal" rituals? Share them in the comments! And be safe out there on Monday!

~Kate T.


Cheering for our FACE™ Athletes at the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games

If you’re like me, you may be going through a little bit of “Games withdrawal” since the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games ended. Good news! “The Games” ain’t over, folks. These past two weeks have only been a lull, before the action picks up again. From March 4 -13, the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games take place in Beijing, and Canada is sending 49 athletes from across the nation. With 5 sports competing, including wheelchair curling, Para ice hockey, Para alpine skiing, Para snowboard, and Para nordic skiing, these Paralympic Games are set to be the most exciting yet.

Lisa DeJong
Lisa DeJong, FACE Athlete (2021)

If you haven’t followed the Paralympic Games before, then this is the year to tune in. The Canadian team is stacked with accomplished competitors and fresh young talent. In the words of Josh Dueck, chef de mission for the Beijing 2022 Canadian Paralympic Team:“I know the performances and stories of these incredible athletes will elevate, motivate, and unite Canadians across the country, displaying the joy and resiliency of the human spirit and the power of sport to change lives.”

Now, I myself am no stranger to winter sport. In my youth, I was an exceptional downhill skier: exceptional in my eagerness, and my clumsiness. (I could never get the hang of that tow-rope, and was nicknamed “the wipe-out King” by my junior high ski club). HOWEVER, I loved the feel of the fresh winter air, and the thrill of a smooth and (though rare for me) graceful run. As an adult, witnessing the perseverance, dedication, courage and incredible skill of Paralympian winter athletes fills me with awe and admiration. These athletes are masters of their sport, and at the same time are pushing the boundaries of human achievement.

As you may remember from my previous PumpTalk about the Olympic Games, when it comes to cheering on Team Canada (from my couch) I can get a little worked up. I’ve been warming up for the Paralympic Winter Games by watching interviews from Petro-Canada’s Fuelling Great Athletes // Propulser de grands athlètes series, featuring Natalie Wilkie and her coach Robin McKeever (Para nordic skiing), Lyne-Marie Bilodeau and Coach Graham Nishikawa (Para nordic skiing), and Alexis Guimond and Coach Jean-Sébastien Labrie (Para alpine):

Both Natalie Wilkie and Lyne-Marie Bilodeau are past recipients of a Petro-Canada Fuelling Athlete and Coach Excellence (FACE™) grant. They will be joined in Beijing by 14 other FACE™ alumni including:

Mark Arendz
Mark Arendz, FACE Athlete (2008)

We’re proud to see so many past FACE™ grant recipients compete with the world’s best, and thrilled for their success thus far. For a peek at the next round of up-and-comers, check out the 2022 FACE™ announcement. These 55 athlete/coach pairs will receive $10,000 each to help them chase their dreams.

While you’re waiting for the excitement to begin, check out this interview with Catherine Gosselin-Després, the Executive Director of Sport for the Canadian Paralympic Committee. Catherine describes the substantial planning, organization and preparation that goes into ensuring that all the athletes’ accessibility and competition needs for the Games are met, including on-site equipment repairs, assisting devices and even prosthetics. It’s an impressive operation!

Go Team Canada! Over on our social media pages, we’re ready to help you root for our athletes. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to celebrate our FACE™ athletes’ successes, and cheer them on in the comments! Each time Team Canada wins a medal, we will be giving away three sets of our limited edition 2022 pins (one Olympic, one Paralympic and one Coaching Association of Canada pin, each featuring that adorable red panda!) on our Facebook page, so be sure to stay tuned.

Pin Giveaway

It’s easier than ever to access coverage of the Paralympic Games on CBC/Radio-Canada or CBC Gem online.  You can also follow the Canadian Paralympic Team’s Twitter account and Facebook Page for competition coverage.

Go get ‘em, team! You got this!

We’ll be rooting for each and every one of you.

-Paul D.