No relief in sight for gas-pump pain

BC prices parked in mid-$1.30 range, but are likely to climb

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

CALGARY -- Canadians may soon be filling up their gas tanks at an average of $1.40 per litre -- a price they haven't seen since the heady summer of 2008, says the co-founder of Gasbuddy.com.

"We're going to see gas prices jump around a little bit. But generally speaking, for the next month or so, we're going to see gas prices more or less going up,'' Jason Toews, co-founder of the price-tracking website, said Monday.

"We could see gas prices reaching close to $1.40 per litre by the Victoria Day long weekend.''

In Vancouver, prices have been parked in the mid-$1.30 range for weeks.

Gasbuddy pegs the current Canadian average price at around $1.28 per litre, its highest level since before the financial crisis hit in the fall of 2008.

As motorists begin to take to the road at the start of the so-called summer driving season at the end of May, demand will pick up and drive up the price, Toews says.

About 70 per cent of the cost of a litre of gasoline comes from the cost of its main ingredient, crude oil. Crude oil has been trading around its pre-recession levels as unrest in oil producing countries like Libya continues to stoke supply fears.

On Monday, benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude lost about 2.5 per cent to US$106.94 per barrel.

Frustrated motorists may wonder why they get stuck with eye-popping fuel prices, when the factors driving up crude oil are taking place half a world away.

"A lot of people say 'We have so much crude oil here in Canada. Why don't we have cheap gas? Why don't we just sell it to ourselves?''' Toews notes.

"These companies who produce the crude oil are looking to maximize their profits. It's not a charity case. They're not here for the good of Canadians, per se.''

Alberta has been enjoying the cheapest gas in Canada, with the province's average just under $1.17 per litre. B.C. and Ontario, on the other hand, are both hovering around $1.32 per litre. In Newfoundland, drivers were filling up at $1.37 per litre.

It's worthwhile to shop around for the cheapest gas in your city, Toews said. For instance, the lowest price reported in Vancouver Monday morning was $1.27 and the highest was nearly $1.39.

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