No End In Sight For Avgas Issues

Imperial Oil says it’s not aware of any safety issues with using the avgas now safely quarantined in tanks across the country but it’s not saying much more about how the situation is being resolved. The company ordered wholesalers and retailers who got avgas produced by its Strathcona refinery in Edmonton (the only refinery making 100LL in Canada) from Dec. 28 to Feb. 13 to stop selling it because it may not meet standards for “conductivity.” Electrical conductivity must be controlled in petroleum because static electricity can build up in the fuel as it’s being pumped and transferred and it can spark and ignite fuel vapours. It’s not clear what the conductivity issue is, but Imperial said its “primary concern is that the product quality issue may cause interference with onboard fuel gauge sensors.” It’s also not clear whether the fuel can damage aircraft components.

Imperial said most of the suspect fuel went to sellers in Western Canada but some made it farther east. The company and its customers are still figuring out where the unsaleable fuel is but the larger question is what will happen after that’s known. All the oil company can say is that it will provide updates as it knows more but so far it’s not saying whether it has to collect all the fuel and replace it and what its plan for that might be. Meanwhile, Nav Canada has issued a rare nationwide NOTAM recommending pilots check fuel availability as part of their flight planning.