Canada’s only national supplier keeps propane flowing in tough times

June 7, 2011 By    

As Canada’s only national supplier of retail propane, Superior Propane fulfills a unique role north of the border.

To meet the needs of customers in more than 180 Canadian markets coast to coast, the company, part of publicly owned Superior Plus Corp., will rely on extreme measures to ensure on-time delivery of propane.

For example, last year when the Mackenzie River froze, closing the ferry to the only main route into Yellowknife, a town of 20,000 in the Northwest Territories, Superior Propane had to find an alternative delivery method. The company’s delivery team coordinated to have Hercules transport planes fly propane trucks into the community and deliver uninterrupted supply.

By coordinating with the company’s local, regional and national teams, Superior Propane says it meets deliveries in the face of severe weather conditions and other challenges. There are other instances where the company, deploying more than 1,000 propane delivery vehicles, travels across tough terrain to reach customers.

“We deliver propane far into the woods to customers with vacation homes and to companies running mines and hunting camps in some pretty remote areas of Ontario,” says James Pinder, manager of Superior’s fleet operations in the province, where the company is running new Kenworth T470s in the more rugged areas.

More than 80 percent of the company’s customer base is for residential applications, 14 percent for commercial space heating and the rest spread across agriculture, industrial, construction and autogas and fleet applications.

Superior Propane’s retail supply is sourced through Superior Gas Liquids, its wholesale arm, which also has the capability to overcome distribution obstacles by using its wide range of resources. In fact, when two refineries went offline last year, Superior adapted and kept product flowing to its distribution hubs so it could effectively service customers.

The first occurred in the spring when the province of Newfoundland lost its only refinery (North Atlantic Petroleum) for two months due to mechanical issues. Superior’s extensive supply and transportation network (via rail, ferry and truck) helped secure propane for the island’s entire population.

Then, during a late-year snowstorm, the Sarnia refinery, which produces a major share of propane to the Ontario and Quebec markets, went down for three days. Again, Superior tapped its extensive supply network and logistics infrastructure to access propane from alternative locations to meet customers’ demand.

LOCATION: Headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Canada
PROPANE SOLD: About 300 million retail gallons annually
NOTABLE: Propane prices in the U.S. and Canada are competitive. The only difference might be found in the Atlantic provinces of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland, where energy prices are regulated.

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About the Author:

Brian Richesson is the editor in chief of LP Gas Magazine. Contact him at or 216-706-3748.

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