The longstanding player in the Atlantic fuel industry, Maritime Fuels, has filed for bankruptcy.
The company served Maritimers in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia with home heating oil products.
In a statement to CTV News, Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) confirmed that it has been appointed as the trustee in the bankruptcy of Maritime Fuels.
“Information regarding the bankruptcy proves will be sent directly to the known creditors of Maritime,” said PwC’s spokesperson, Anuja Agarwal.
Canadians for Affordable Energy’s President, Dan McTeague, said the bankruptcy of the company is unusual, especially as the colder weather approaches.
“A number of customers obviously not just rely and have that as a supplier but may very well have credits with the company.”
All of it is a harsh reality for David Atchison, a long time Maritime Fuels customer who learned about the bankruptcy through social media.
“My spouse saw a social media posting that Maritime Fuels declared bankruptcy and I immediately attempted to call the company several times to no avail. I haven’t received any documentation from them [and] I haven’t received a phone.”
Atchison is on a 12-month billing plan and has been making payments to it every month and has not received a delivery of furnace oil since April. Since then he said he has made a payment of $2900, he said upon learning that the company has filed for bankruptcy he does not expect to get that money back.
“It’s not a great time. Not before Christmas and not before the furnace season starts. I’ll have to make some cuts to spending to accommodate increased fuel costs. This was hoping to smooth out the payments so I wouldn’t be hit with massive bills throughout the winter,” he said. “Hopefully it’s a mild winter. That’s my wish.”
Atchison said if it were not for his spouse, he would have fully expected fuel delivery later this month.
“I’ve only got a quarter of a tank of oil. I could’ve easily run out and experienced additional problems like frozen pipes.”
Several attempts were made to contact the company, but the phone system redirected calls to a list of options, only to end the phone call abruptly.
A former employee of Maritime Fuel informed CTV News that she had worked with the company for five years and said there was a meeting Wednesday afternoon, where employees learned for the first time that the company had filed for bankruptcy. She said they were told that they would have to go through PwC to get vacation and severance pay.
The former employee said it all came as a huge shock.
Another fuel company in the Maritimes told CTV News that they will need to find another supplier.
CTV news also reached out to the province, who said they are looking into the matter. They admit they did not know anything it.
Several members of parliament that CTV news reached out to on Friday, including Halifax MP Andy Filmore, also said they were not aware of this.
In a statement to CTV News on Friday, the Nova Scotia government has asked customers to contact their financial institutions or credit card company to stop payments to Maritime Fuels right away.
“Nova Scotian’s who have already paid for fuel they did not or will not receive should contact PwC. This ensures that they will hear from the trustee as arrangements are made to pay off the company’s debts,” says the statement.
While it is unclear as to what caused the company to file for bankruptcy, McTeague said there could be many possibilities.
“Perhaps some financial decisions were made, acquisitions of other companies, but it can also be hedging. We have to bear in mind that this time last year diesel and home heating fuel were up about 50 to 60 cents a litre more expensive. Many may have chosen to inoculate themselves against that higher price by agreeing to a price that they thought was far less than what we saw last year,” explained McTeague. “With the price of diesel and heating having dropped dramatically, certainly in recent months, perhaps they were caught off guard.”
No clarity has been provided as to the number of people this affects.
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