June 4, 2003
(Government Services and Lands)


The following is being distributed at the request of the Petroleum Products Pricing Commission:

Commissioner to meet with town councils about fuel regulation

The Petroleum Products Pricing Commission (PPPC) is about to hear what some communities in the northern portion of the province have to say about fuel price regulation.

Beginning June 17, George Saunders, PPPC commissioner, along with research director David Toms, will meet with the Happy Valley-Goose Bay town council to discuss several issues they have regarding fuel prices. At the top of the list is the council�s request that the commission freeze Happy Valley-Goose Bay fuel prices during the winter months just as it does in many coastal regions of Labrador.

In order to give the council a clear understanding of the impact their request would have, Mr. Saunders said he will bring data outlining the historical movement of gasoline prices throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. As well, he said he will speak to the group about the pricing activities of this past winter, such as the effects of the war in the Middle East.

"If the commission had granted the town what they had asked for this past January � a price freeze � then the people of Happy Valley-Goose Bay would be frozen at the price that was set in January or February of this year," noted Mr. Saunders. "They would not have been able to take advantage of the declines in prices that have occurred since March 15. The public there needs to understand that once prices are frozen, they remain so from November 15 until July 15. This won�t be something that will change year over year just because they don�t like the fact prices could freeze at a high level. They have to seriously look at this issue, and we will weigh their arguments before making any final decision."

Other items the commissioner will discuss with council members include fuel delivery, as well as the changing retail network in the Happy Valley-Goose Bay area, especially with the establishment of retail gasoline sales in Sheshashuit and its perceived impact on the pre-existing retail outlets.

Mr. Saunders said he requested information from the town council regarding the number of marine deliveries that take place there and where the products are destined in relation to consumer markets. This information will be beneficial to the commission in its research.

Before leaving, the PPPC representatives will also conduct a fact-finding tour of all retail outlets and any petroleum-related infrastructure in the area.

After completing the Labrador leg of the trip, Mr. Saunders and Mr. Toms will head to St. Anthony June 18 to meet with the community�s council that evening.

The main purpose for this meeting is to discuss the fuel price regulation system in Newfoundland and Labrador. Mr. Saunders said Mayor Ernest Simms had published statements in the past that were critical of the commission, and this trip is an opportunity to provide his council with a better understanding of the PPPC�s work.

Mr. Saunders said he will also meet with local businessman, Maurice Simmons of GNP Heating, who is currently the lone distributor of petroleum products based in the St. Anthony area. There is a limited presence of competitors, but the commissioner pointed out that Mr. Simmons is living in the town and services many of the smaller outlying communities.

"It�s an excellent opportunity to speak with him about the impact of the removal of Imperial Oil operations and how he views the future of petroleum distribution in the St. Anthony region," said Mr. Saunders. "It�s also a chance for other people to meet with us if they want to discuss any ongoing issues they might have."

To arrange an appointment with Mr. Saunders during the evening of June 18, contact the Grand Falls-Windsor office toll-free at 1-866-489-8800.

Media contact: Michelle Hicks, Communications. Tel: 1-866-489-8800, (709) 489-8837; or cell: (709) 486-4789.

2003 06 04                                     10:20 a.m.

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