VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Metro Vancouver’s gas prices are earning their infamy this week, with many stations posting over $1.50 per litre for regular, and there are hints that prices could climb further into record-setting territory during the summer months.
Dan McTeague, who monitors Canadian gas prices for GasBuddy.com, says commuters in the Lower Mainland are now forced to pay 15 to 18 cents per litre more for gas than last year, which adds $500 to $600 to the average driver’s annual gas bill.
“Vancouver’s prices, frankly, are just stratospheric,” he says.
“There is no other jurisdiction in North America that has prices like we have here.”
Drivers typically enjoy a dip in the price of gas between January and March, but McTeague says this year, a temporary shutdown at the Parkland refinery in Burnaby has forced more fuel to be imported from Washington state, where local demand is already high.
The expense is further exacerbated by a relatively low Canadian dollar.
We spoke with one commuter who tells us he’s making an effort to cut down the amount of time he spends on the road.
“It’s tough. You have to go out of your way to try to find cheap gas, so it might take you longer on your commute just to fill up at a cheaper price,” says David Welsh.
“It’s made me alter my behaviour, that’s for sure. I’m trying to drive a lot less.”
McTeague says prices could rise another three to four cents in the coming weeks, but even if that hike is avoided, several other factors could push gas prices towards $1.60 per litre during the summer.
“Summer demand has a dramatic impact on prices, and usually, anywhere from a five to ten cent a litre increase from what you’re paying today would be in line with the traditional patterns for gasoline,” he explains.
As well, fuel manufacturers are about to shift production to pricier summer blends, and a higher provincial carbon tax taking effect April 1st is expected to add 1.2 cents to the per litre price.
McTeague adds taxes remain a major factor in the cost of fuel, accounting for about one third of the current $1.50 per litre price.