U.S. supply crunch pushing up gas prices across the Prairies

Upper Midwest refinery disruptions in the United States have initiated another massive gasoline price headache for many western Canadian motorists.

As of early yesterday, the average price in British Columbia had jumped nearly seven cents a litre this week, and, according to an early morning GasBuddy.com monitor, was up to a 129.9 cents.

Even Alberta was a victim of this price surge, and had actually posted a bigger increase than B.C., with the average up to a 111.6 — nine cents more than a week ago — and 17 cents higher than last month at this time.

“What has happend in the past few weeks is several key refineries in the United States and the Chicago and Great Lakes (area), they’ve not been able to produce gasoline,” said Gas Buddy Senior Analyst Dan McTeague

“Some of them are coming back online, but, with demand being as high as it is, higher than it’s been for several years, it’s created a bit of a supply crunch, which has impacted all of the prairie markets, that is everything from Thunder Bay in Eastern Canada all the way out to the B.C. interior.

“That’s mostly because the relevant market there is Edmonton, and their prices have gone up,” McTeague continued.

“That’s why we’ve seen this massive increase, shocking increase for most. It has nothing to do with oil and everything to do with a shortage of gas in the United States, and, really, that’s where the price of gas is established, whether we like it or not.”

As for the aforementioned rise in prices in Edmonton, we note for first time in a long time, a 44 station monitor there this week failed to turn up one outlet with a post below a dollar a litre.

Meantime, Mr. McTeague is also pointing to the drop in the value of the loonie, as another key factor behind this latest price surprise.

“There’s a lot of motorists saying, ‘Well, hang on a second. Oil was trading at $110 a barrel.. this year it’s only at $60. Why are we paying 10 to 15 cents of the highest prices we were paying last year?’

“And it has a lot to do with the Canadian dollar losing about 14 per cent value, about 10 cents a litre is what it turns out to.,” said McTeague.

For those planning an Alaska Highway trip, at last check yesterday, it was still possible to fill up at Dawson Creek for a 114.7 cents a litre, but the best advice was to get enough there to get to Whitehorse, where you could fill up again for a 116.9 cents.

Otherwise, at a 128.9 cents, you’ll pay 12 cents a litre more in Fort St. John, or at a 142.9, 26 cents more in Fort Nelson.

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