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Old Posted Nov 15, 2007, 4:37 AM
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Esso pulls plug on floating fuel stations

There is a David-versus-Goliath battle underway at two Lower Mainland marina hubs, with boaters, island-commuters and gas station operators taking on Imperial Oil to protect the only remaining, convenient fuel access they have.

The oil giant owns the floating Esso gas stations in West Vancouver's Fisherman's Cove and Vancouver's False Creek, as well as a few others around B.C. Since last year, however, it has been trying to get out of the dwindling business completely.

"From time to time, we conduct reviews of our business and look at our marine services network. It no longer fit in our core business, so we decided to exit that segment," said Calgary-based Gordon Wong, a spokesperson for Imperial Oil. "[In B.C.], seven sites are being impacted."

The problem at Fisherman's Cove and at False Creek is that Esso is the only player. Without the company's presence, there is no other option, leaving boaters in those areas to precariously lug jerry cans of gasoline from land to sea in order to fill up their tanks.

"Depending on your boat, you might be able to race daylight to get to another station, but people are already [getting ready by] packing fuel by hand. And they are spilling it. I see dozens of people doing this. It's a huge safety hazard," said Andy Mosier, head of yacht sales at Thunderbird Marina near Fisherman's Cove.

Bruce Falkins, who has run the Esso float fuel station at Fisherman's Cove for 25 years, said that Imperial originally offered to sell him the station and let him continue operating it. Later, he was informed that "because of [Imperial's] concerns with their future liability with the structure, they were cancelling the sale."

"Instead, they are going to completely destroy it," in early January, and take along a "perfectly good floating marine structure," said Falkins.

Some 2,000 boaters and commuters use the Fisherman's Cove gas station, according to Falkins. About the same number use the False Creek location. There is a small groundswell brewing as consumers at both locations voice their complaints directly to Imperial, sign petitions and call on politicians to intervene. A few have even offered to drum up investment dollars to help out operators, said Falkins.

"This is the situation in the winter. A lot of people don't even know this is going on, and won't realize until it gets busy in the summer. Then, they will go and try to get gas and there will be nowhere to get it," said Mosier. "It's a big hazard."

Falkins said that because of some complaints, "a vice president [at Imperial] has said, 'I need to be sure we are doing the right thing here in having these barges destroyed rather than having them sold to the operators.' So, they said that management would come back to us [later this week] with an answer as to whether they would sell or destroy them. The answer right now is that they are going to destroy them."

Wong declined to discuss the company's dealings with individual retail operators, but some of them, who didn't want to be named because they are still in negotiations with Imperial, said that talks are underway to turn select locations into "unbranded ones."

This would allow a physical gas station to continue running, but it would operate without a trace of Esso signage or other identification. In other cases, outright closures of Esso stations have been tough luck for the operator, but consumers could, at least, still turn to a nearby competitor for gas.

Falkins emphasized that in addition to providing fuel for boaters and commuters, these remaining fuel floats are used by various coast guard and emergency service providers. "We have often gone out to help sailors," he said in an interview. As well, in an area of mostly "expensive and private waterfront property, we offer a meeting point that is publicly accessible."

Wong, the spokesman, revealed little about the company's efforts to take a second look at the situation, saying only that "there is nothing to preclude anyone or any organization from starting a business in this area if they see an opportunity here. Our normal process when we close a site is to do an assessment of equipment that is there, to do an environmental assessment, to remove the equipment and develop a plan for a cleanup. That is us taking that is us taking responsibility for a location where we have operated for a number of years."

http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/n...99ccc3&k=65816

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  #2  
Old Posted Dec 7, 2007, 4:50 PM
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i'm not a boater...yet...

however, these are vital bits of Vancouver-isms that i've never seen anywhere else. the floating gas station, its a head turner for some out of towners.
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Old Posted Dec 7, 2007, 9:24 PM
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nooooo....first it was the floating McDick's, now it's the floating gas stations.

*cries*
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Old Posted Dec 7, 2007, 10:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Distill3d View Post
i'm not a boater...yet...

however, these are vital bits of Vancouver-isms that i've never seen anywhere else. the floating gas station, its a head turner for some out of towners.
I know! I took friends from Seattle down to Canada Place one night and they saw the floating Esso and Chevron fuel barges with their large, lit up signs and they thought it was very cool that boaters could fuel up at floating gas stations.

They are uniquely Vancouver.
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Old Posted Dec 8, 2007, 6:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Distill3d View Post
i'm not a boater...yet...

however, these are vital bits of Vancouver-isms that i've never seen anywhere else. the floating gas station, its a head turner for some out of towners.
their all over the world and all over bc. you know anywhere there is a bit more boat traffic your not going to see people lugging gas in jiffy cans to their boat. pitt lake has one, port moody has one, horshobay has one, several on the fraser river, etc. and out of the couple i just mentioned in the gvrd none of them are esso and theres many more in the lower mainland.
the out off towners just find it odd because their probably a bit ignorant to boating and have never really set foot on a boat. this and the fact that the station in downtown Vancouver being very prominent leads to allot of people who have never found themselves in a area where these are located being very surprised that they even exist.

Last edited by cornholio; Dec 8, 2007 at 7:11 PM.
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Old Posted Dec 8, 2007, 7:18 PM
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I've always wondered where they store the fuel...
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Old Posted Dec 14, 2007, 5:52 PM
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lol. reminds me of a friend in Salt Lake who asked: "How do the cars get out there?"
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