Email this articleE-mail this story  Discuss this articleWrite letter to editor  Discuss this articleOrder a classified ad

Gas problems being solved

Brent Reaney
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Mar 07/05) - Shell Canada will spend $500,000 to put a gasoline additive in affected Baffin and Kivalliq communities over the next month, while researching a long-term solution to problems plaguing snowmobilers.

Some snowmobile owners have been complaining of spark plug fouling when using their machines in extremely cold temperatures, as well as a thick black smoke coming from their exhaust pipes.

"We have investigated any and all concerns that we have been asked to investigate," said Mark Anderson of Shell Canada during a nearly four-hour session held to answer questions from Nunavut MLAs March 3.

Shell says the gas surpasses all required tests.

But testing shows that MMT - an additive originally designed as an octane enhancer - was found to alleviate the reported problems. Last year, MMT was removed by nearly every gasoline supplier after car manufacturers claimed it could be damaging emissions systems in newer vehicles. Officials say further test results could be available within the next 60 days. Shell has agreed to comply with proposed changes to the fuel supply specifications.

Many MLAs told tales of snowmobile owners and hunters suffering in their communities. But more than one MLA incorrectly accused Shell of supplying the bad gas in 2001.

Hudson Bay MLA Peter Kattuk told the assembly on March 2 that Sanikiluaq has also been affected by gas problems.

During the session with Shell, he pulled out a wrinkled plastic shopping bag containing broken pistons.

Kattuk asked the man who owned the pistons if he could keep them. "He said 'yes, because it's not good anyway,'" Kattuk said, holding up the engine part to applause and laughter.

Shell says it is not aware of customers who have experienced piston or engine problems.

Other MLAs called for compensation, a decision Peter Kilabuk, the minister of Community and Government Services, says would have to be made by cabinet.

The Kitikmeot region receives its gas from Imperial Oil and has had no reported problems.

As of March 4, gasoline in the communities of Rankin Inlet, Repulse Bay and Baker Lake should have been treated.

The names of six other communities slated for treatment, as well a schedule, were not available by press time.

Communities experiencing similar problems have been urged to contact the GN's Petroleum Products Division in Rankin Inlet.