Canada’s petroleum marketing sector is an industry that the majority of people need to live their lives. From getting to work, to taking kids to school, most people drive into their local retail outlet, and fill up.
But behind the scenes, how does that sector function and what makes it tick? Octane Magazine sits down with Jennifer Stewart, the President and CEO of the Canadian Independent Petroleum Marketers Association, also known as CIPMA, to learn more.
OCTANE: What is the biggest misperception about Canada’s petroleum marketing sector?
Stewart: I think a big misperception is that most retail sites are owned by refining companies, when in reality, the vast majority or nearly 80 per cent of sites, are owned by independent businesses.
What amazes me, day-in and day-out about the sector, is the innovation of the entrepreneurs behind the scenes. Many of these business owners operate ‘big brands’ like Shell and ESSO, but are driven, self-made entrepreneurs with a hunger to succeed in a very competitive marketplace.
OCTANE: What advancements have been made in the sector that you would want highlighted?
Stewart: The sector continues to be more energy efficient and prioritizes reducing emissions. As an industry, we have reduced sulphur in gasoline, a major contributor to air pollution, by nearly 95 per cent.
CIPMA was also supportive of the Ontario Government’s recent decision to go to E10, up from E5. This means that gasoline will have an average ethanol content of 10 per cent across the province.
We feel that there are ways we can reduce our carbon footprint and make people feel good about their choices. In fact, we launched a program called ‘Smart Fuelling’ to demonstrate how consumers can reduce their carbon footprint (www.smartfuelling.ca)
OCTANE: In light of ongoing government regulation, what do you see as the future of the sector?
Stewart: I think we need to keep innovating, and this isn’t just on the retail side of things. It’s fascinating what is happening in the automotive sector, and the advancements that are being made with Internal Combustion Engines. They are becoming increasingly more efficient, and there is a concerted effort within the automotive sector to keep pushing forward and advancing their design in an effort to even further reduce emissions.
OCTANE: How do you think the sector will be influenced by the introduction of electric vehicles?
Stewart: I think we all will be influenced by electric vehicles, but I don’t think this revolution will happen as quickly as some may be predicting. I think people like driving their vehicles, but they want to feel better about their choices. We have many companies that currently offer EV charging stations, in addition to traditional gas stations. I think the future will be a mix of both offerings, and that gasoline isn’t going anywhere, as long as we push to continue down our path of sustainability.
OCTANE: As an industry association, what are your key priorities?
Stewart: Having a voice at the table is key for us. I think being active contributors to government conversations, regulations and just generally being present advocating for our sector is the underpinning of CIPMA.
To learn more about CIPMA visit www.cipma.org