High gas prices strike parts of B.C., Alta., catching drivers off guard
A gas pump is shown at a filling station in Montreal on April 12, 2017. (THE CANADIAN PRESS / Graham Hughes)
Gas prices have spiked in parts of Western Canada this week, with some stations in Metro Vancouver charging $1.46 per litre on Friday.
Soaring prices stunned commuters and analysts, leaving the latter confused over the timing of the spike.
“Normally at this time of the year we are seeing fuel prices on the decline after summer high demand period,” Michael Ervin, senior vice-president at Kent Group Ltd., told CTV Calgary.
While Ervin says it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of the off-season rise in gas prices, he says there is a higher demand this year than in 2016 with more people on the road.
And with oil refineries shifting production to diesel to capitalize on its high price, Ervin says wholesale prices are being forced even higher.
“That has put a squeeze on the retailers themselves to the point where someone has cried uncle, raised the price, and that has been a signal for others to do the same.”
On Thursday the average price was $1.16 per litre in Calgary, and on Friday some pumps in the city’s Downtown West End were charging $1.27 per litre.
Driver Asif Anwar told CTV Calgary he filled up at a Northeast station for $1.11 per litre on Friday after seeing some stations advertising $1.27 per litre.
This was a good call, Anwar says -- minutes after filling up, the price skyrocketed to almost $1.28 per litre.
Soaring gas prices are also impacting local businesses. A.J. Sampson from R&R Landscapes says fuel is a big operational expense, especially at this time of year.
“We’re doing snow removal, we go through a lot of gas for all the machines,” Sampson told CTV Calgary.
In Vancouver, gas prices leaped for the second time in a week, causing some drivers to avoid getting in the car altogether.
“The gas prices are ridiculous,” driver Don Robinson told CTV Vancouver. After paying a whopping $1.45 per litre, Robinson said he’s been driving less to try to offset the cost of filling up.
“Between real estate and our gas prices, it’s getting harder for people to live here.”
Dan McTeague, senior petroleum analyst at Gas Buddy, says prices haven’t soared this high in Vancouver since 2014.
“They've been going up for the past couple of weeks as a result of a shortage in supply of gasoline and high, high demand in the United States,” McTeague told CTV Vancouver.
He warns drivers that the price is likely to go up even more heading into the weekend.
“We will see tonight -- Friday night into Saturday -- a two-cent-a-litre average increase here in Metro Vancouver,” McTeague said.
Some frustrated residents have driven from Metro Vancouver to Fraser Valley -- or even south, to the state of Washington -- to catch a break on gas prices. Fortunately, after prices increase again analysts are expecting a slight drop in cost at the pumps next week.
With reports from CTV Calgary’s Chris Epp and CTV Vancouver’s Michelle Brunoro