The Canadian Independent Petroleum Marketers Association (CIPMA) serves as the backbone of Canada’s fuel distribution and marketing industry, giving a voice to the sector over the past 17 years. Its members distribute everything from heating oil, gasoline and diesel to propane, aviation fuel and renewable fuels to various industries across the country.
Starting in 1996, the CIPMA really started to create a collective voice in a marketplace that had long been dominated by refineries that had marketing arms.
“The association came to be the voice of the country’s small and medium sized fuel marketers, who have different interests and concerns than those who are manufacturing the products and also selling it,” explains Tricia Anderson, President and CEO of CIPMA.
In addition to advocating for its members’ interests, CIPMA adds value to membership by putting in the effort to interpret new and coming regulations, “keeping them apprised of major market and regulatory trends and providing [members] with valuable networking events.”
Anderson sums up CIPMA’s overarching vision: “Our goal is to ensure the continued existence of a healthy, independent fuel marketing and distribution sector at the wholesale and retail levels.”
CIPMA addresses many of the concerns of its members and are invested in helping members run their businesses effectively. One of the major issues for members is access to product that are needed to run their businesses.
“There have been a number of issues with refinery reliability as well as regulation of how much product can move back and forth across provincial and international borders (Canada-US),” explains Anderson. Each province has a different set of regulations regarding the flow of product across boundaries. These differences between provinces may be minor, but they affect how businesses are run none-the-less. An additional issue is rateable access to transportation fuel to run businesses. “We had a huge reduction in the number of refineries in Canada over the last several decades and there are talks of further reductions. We are concerned that further regulation as it stands right now is very problematic to our members,” says Anderson.
There are a number of advantages of becoming a member of CIPMA. Comprising of 23 members, most of which are larger independents, CIPMA has seen a lot of growth in the last few years.
“Our members represent a quarter of all petroleum products that are moved and sold in Canada,” says Anderson.
As an advocacy organization, CIPMA offers the opportunity to become a part of electing the board of directors and the ability to shape the agenda and where resources are allocated. Members are also able to run for office as board member where they have a direct impact on the priorities and actions of the organization. CIPMA members are kept up-to-date with regulatory updates and are provided with briefing books in terms of what is going on in the industry. Networking is a crucial part of the industry and members are able to enjoy the full advantages of that through their membership. For example, they receive a discount on industry functions.
“We have three events that are very well attended and members have discounts on that. We also do a considerable amount of outreach, talking to potential members,” says Anderson. Full information relating to the process of becoming a member is available on the CIPMA website.
One of the most well-attended events hosted by CIPMA is the Canadian Fuel Marketing Conference, which has been taking place over the past several years every April. This year, the event will take place in Ottawa.
“It’s been growing dramatically over the past few years. Last year, we had close to 160 people. It’s a major event that focuses on education, topical issues, great speakers, and networking opportunities,” says Anderson.
CIPMA is truly a one-of-a-kind organization that offers specialized services to its members. “What we represent is different — it’s for petroleum marketers, so from that point of view, we’re the organization that you would come to because that’s our niche and we know the industry well and we advocate well on the issues in that sector,” says Anderson.
In terms of future plans, the board is determining its priorities. “We just did a strategic review, which we do on a periodic basis, to map out where we’re going to put our attention,” says Anderson. The issue of access to petroleum products is number one for members, so CIPMA has recently commissioned some research that will analyze regulatory impediments, product movements and the overall view of the supply and demand situation in Canada.