Metro Vancouver drivers set to pay record high gas prices

«I wouldn’t be surprised to see $1.65 (a litre) between now and the May long weekend (Victoria Day 18-20),» said gas analyst Dan McTeague.

The price of a litre of gasoline of $1.579 is displayed on a sign as motorists fuel up at a Shell gas station in Vancouver, B.C., on Sunday April 22, 2018. DARRYL DYCK / THE CANADIAN PRESS

The highest Metro Vancouver gas prices of all time could hit drivers this summer.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see $1.65 (a litre) between now and the May long weekend (Victoria Day 18-20),” said gas analyst Dan McTeague.

The highest price ever paid by Metro Vancouver drivers was 163.9 cents a litre on Oct. 13, 2018, that was also a record for any major North American city.

McTeague said the price record was driven by the Enbridge gas line explosion north of Prince George that led to a natural gas supply crisis.

“That caused problems not only for the small Parkland refinery in Burnaby, but directly impacted the fuel supply to the four refineries south of the border in Washington state who supply us 30 to 40 per cent of our gas needs,” he said. “They use natural gas to generate electricity to turn crude into gasoline.”

McTeague said a variety of factors was set to now push gas prices to record highs, beyond the 158.9 cents a litre that car owners were paying at some Vancouver gas stations on Sunday.

For starters, on Monday the B.C. government’s promised carbon tax increase kicks in. This carbon tax was introduced in 2008 and on April 1 will go from $35 to $40 per tonne, which equates to an extra 1.16 cents per litre.

“In Metro Vancouver overnight you will tip-toe over $1.60 a litre,” McTeague said.

Then, on July 1, TransLink’s regional motor fuel tax on gas and diesel will increase from 17 cents a litre to 18.5 cents a litre — a one and half cent per litre increase.

“$1.65 (a litre) is attainable and $1.70 is not too far fetched,” McTeague said.


On top of that, Vancouver will be exposed to further gas price hikes if any of Washington’s four refineries are shutdown or need repairs.

Finally, British Columbians could be at the mercy of the Alberta government if either the ruling NDP or the opposition United Conservative Party chose to implement Bill 12, which gives that government the power to reduce the flow of gasoline to B.C. if B.C. does not get behind the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. There is an election in Alberta on April 16.

The Trans Mountain pipeline provides about one third of the province’s gas, with another third supplied by the Parkland refinery and the rest from the U.S. and Asia.

Electric vehicle analyst Matthew Klippenstein said that while potential electric car buyers would factor in the current jump in gas prices, they would likely be more influenced by the B.C. government’s decision to allow zero emission cars to drive in high-occupancy vehicle lanes.

“Things like HOV lane access can be a bigger motivator for people than gas prices, because it can save you 20 minutes a day,” he said.

In 2018, three to four per cent of cars sold in B.C. were zero emission, compared to Canada’s just over two per cent. Klippenstein said that sales on Vancouver Island were higher than the rest of B.C.

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