UBC Graduate Research

Fuel network analysis : describing vulnerabilities and resilience opportunities for the fuel transportation network of B.C.'s southern coastal communities Dobson, Bethany


This paper examines fuel distribution as part of a three year project sponsored by the Canadian Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response (MEOPAR) network to address transportation resilience for coastal communities in British Columbia’s southern west coast. Its purpose is to illustrate how fuel is distributed through the region, which areas are vulnerable to disruption events, and opportunities for increasing resiliency. While conducting research through interviews with government and industry employees, it was found that few stakeholders understand how fuel is transported to and within in B.C. This paper addresses the knowledge gap by summarizing the study area’s fuel distribution network and how changes in one link affect the rest of the network. For remote communities in particular, removing one link can significantly change their path to a fuel source. Maps were chosen as a way to illustrate reliance on different modes of transportation. Beginning in Port Moody or Burnaby, gasoline is transported to other communities via trucks, pipeline, rail, and marine modes. Some parts of the network have enough redundancy that removing a critical piece of infrastructure, such as a bridge or port, has minimal effect on the overall network. For other communities, however, key infrastructure is essential for maintaining their fuel supply line. In the analysis, each municipality represents a node. Links characterize existing connections between two places – such as a road, bridge, or marine shipping route. Each community is scored depending on the number of links on the shortest route between it and a fuel distribution source. Different scenarios are explored by adding or removing links to see how the shortest path changes between communities and a distribution point. The disrupted network scenarios include bridge closures, port closures, a blockage in the First Narrows channel, and two earthquakes as detailed in the 2015 Provincial Government’s “B.C. Earthquake Immediate Response Plan.” The enhanced network scenarios include additional marine links to Squamish, Powell River, Gibsons, and Vancouver Island from either the Lower Mainland or United States. The two disruption scenarios that have the biggest effects are a Victoria-based earthquake and a blockage in the First Narrows channel. The most significant results in the enhanced network are created by adding marine links to Squamish, Comox, and the USA. These score changes to do necessarily correspond to increased difficulty in transporting fuel or additional vulnerabilities if a community is further down the supply chain. Instead, fuel availability during a natural disaster will depend on how governments and the transport sector respond as well as possible changes in the demand side.

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