Sulphur shippers seek speedy stop to strike



    OTTAWA, April 12 /CNW/ - The representative of more than 20 producers and
shippers of sulphur in Western Canada is calling on all federal parties to
protect jobs, health and safety and the environment, by immediately passing
legislation that will bring a speedy end to the current CN rail labour
disruptions.
    The continued strike actions by members of the United Transportation
Union (UTU) and lockouts by CN are damaging the economy and creating
unacceptable risks, says Sultran Ltd., which serves Canada's sulphur
producers, marketers and suppliers by transporting 6 million tonnes of solid
sulphur from production point to port each year.
    "This strike isn't just affecting shippers," says Lorne Friberg,
President and CEO of Sultran. "It is affecting jobs, the economy, consumers
and the environment. MPs must take quick action to protect Canadians and the
Western economy."
    Friberg explained that if Sulphur can't be transported by rail, the only
options are to store the product on-site at plants or shut down oil and gas
production. "From an environmental, safety or economic perspective, neither is
a sustainable solution. It's essential that Parliament act now," he says.
    In addition, Friberg warns that the continued rail disruptions jeopardize
natural gas production. Sulphur is a co-product of natural gas, and the only
way to stop sulphur production is to stop producing natural gas. "Cutting
natural gas production will hurt the economy, hurt jobs and, most of all, hurt
consumers," says Friberg. "We are still struggling to recover from the 14-day
CN Strike this past February. These impacts are not weeks away, they are days
away, unless Parliament takes action."
    Continued disruptions will force plants to store sulphur on-site as
formed product or in storage blocks. As plants reach critical inventory
levels, sulphur production will have to be significantly curtailed, which
could result in a serious decrease (or elimination) of natural gas production.
    Friberg says that back-to-work legislation is nothing new, having been
tabled in Parliament 31 times before now. In fact, the first federal
back-to-work legislation ever passed ended the 1950 rail workers' strike, and
railway back-to-work bills have been introduced on five subsequent occasions.
    Canada is the world's largest exporter of sulphur, with exports worth
close to one-half billion dollars annually. Sultran relies on rail to
transport sulphur to two tidewater terminals in Vancouver, an average distance
of 1400 km from each exporting plant. Eight sulphur-forming plants rely
exclusively on CN Rail.
    "We know that MPs can act swiftly if they want to protect jobs and the
economy in Western Canada," Friberg says. "Six times before, back-to-work
legislation has passed in a single day."
    The bottom line? "This country was built by rail and our economy still
depends on it," Friberg says. "Canadians need our MPs to act now to restore
full, uninterrupted rail service."

    ABOUT SULPHUR:

    Sulphur is one of the more important industrial raw materials and is an
integral component of the world economy. It occurs naturally in the
environment and is the 13th most abundant element in the earth's crust. While
sulphur can be mined, most elemental sulphur is obtained as a co-product
recovered from oil and gas production. Sulphuric acid production is the major
end-use for sulphur, and consumption of sulphuric acid has been regarded as
one of the best indices of a nation's industrial development. Sulphur is used
in batteries, detergents, the vulcanization of rubber, fungicides and in the
manufacture of phosphate fertilizers. It is used to manufacture other products
such as chemicals, paints, rubber and plastic products, medicines, fibres and
sugar. Sulphites are used to bleach paper and as a preservative in wine and
dried fruit.

    ABOUT SULTRAN:

    Sultran Ltd. is a private company owned by major energy producers in
Western Canada. Sultran transports sulphur from the processing plants to
tidewater in a manner that allows its full marketable potential to be
realized. Today, Sultran has 23 user customers, with 19 different companies
holding shares in the organization. Some of Sultran's partners and
stakeholders include major sulphur producers, marketers, railways and
suppliers. Over 150 million tonnes for solid sulphur has been transported by
Sultran to export markets throughout the company's 30 year history.





For further information:

For further information: Daniel Brock, (613) 850-0711,
dbrock@tor.fasken.com

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SULTRAN LTD.

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