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BCUC finds no evidence of collusion in gas price inquiry

Last Updated Aug 30, 2019 at 8:20 pm PDT

Summary

The British Columbia Utilities Commission announced its findings Friday from an inquiry into gas prices

Findings show, the BCUC found B.C.'s gas prices to be about 13 cents more per litre than they are in Washington state

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – In its report, the BC Utilities Commission says “there is a significant, unexplained difference” in wholesale gasoline prices in B.C. compared to southern competitors.

The BCUC announced its findings Friday from an inquiry into high gas prices. The inquiry was ordered in May by Premier John Horgan, and was not allowed to investigate taxes imposed by various levels of government on fuel.

Findings show, B.C.’s gas prices are about 13 cents more per litre than they are in Washington state.


David Morton, who chairs the BC Utilities Commission, can’t explain why prices in Metro Vancouver are higher than they are in Washington.

“Prior to 2015, prices were closely correlated. Since then, the difference between Vancouver and Pacific Northwest prices widened to about 20 cents per litres, so that’s a comparison on a Canadian dollar basis,” he says.

He adds that four or five years ago, the gap was only five cents.

The report also found no evidence of collusion between gas station operators, and suggests regulation could help bring gas prices down.

“It was observed that northern B.C. wholesale prices are set on wholesale prices in Edmonton, while southern B.C. wholesale prices were based on the US market –primarily the price of spot gasoline in the Pacific Northwest,” Morton says.

He adds while there is no collusion, it is possible that prices changing throughout the day are “choreographed.”