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Regina Leader-Post (Canada): Shell closing bulk fuel outlets

SOUTHERN SASKATCHEWAN
Leader-Post staff

Shell Canada Ltd. is closing eight of its bulk fuel and lubricant outlets in southern Saskatchewan, and selling another six locations, a company spokeswoman said Thursday.

“We’ve decided to close some of our agency locations in Saskatchewan,’’ said Jana Saunderson, a public affairs representative with Shell in Calgary. “The last day of business will be this Friday, July 20,’’ she said.

The centres to be closed are located in: Fort Qu’Appelle, Indian Head, Weyburn, Melville, Esterhazy, North Battleford, Prince Albert and Big River.

Saunderson said Shell attempted to sell all 14 service centres to private buyers and were able to sell six locations.

“Our first choice was to find a qualified buyer to operate these sites. Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful to find a buyer who was qualified (for all 14),’’ she said.

“The remaining ones will either offer the same services to customers through a reseller … or a different business arrangement,” Saunderson said. “It will be an independent that sells (Shell) branded products.”

She added the six locations that are changing hands may not offer all of the services previously provided by the Shell-owned location, such as card-lock or store-front services.

She said the decision to close or sell the 14 bulk fuel and lubricant outlets was based on Shell’s decision to reallocate its resources in Saskatchewan to serve larger markets.

“This is a business that serves mainly rural markets and focuses on the agricultural sector. These are usually in smaller markets.’’

For example, Saunderson said Shell and Flying J Canada Inc. have formed a $200-million joint venture to build 15 new “travel plazas” and remodel existing facilities across Canada.

“These are world-class facilities that cater to long-haul truckers, folks who drive RVs, that type of crowd. They offer… all the conveniences of home,” including drivers’ lounges, clean showers, and office services, she said.

Recently, Shell and Flying J opened a Saskatoon location and plan to open a Regina location east of the city along the Trans-Canada Highway in 2008.

But at least one customer wasn’t impressed with Shell’s decision to close the Esterhazy Shell bulk fuel dealership.

“If you could get 200 or 300 farmers not paying their fuel bills … to get the company to take a second look, maybe they wouldn’t have to close,’’ said Greg Hemming, who farms near Esterhazy.

“Sometimes money talks.’’

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