(Black press file photo)

Behind the pump: Multiple factors causing high gas prices in B.C.

This summer is shaping up to be a long and painful one at the gas pumps

This summer is shaping up to be a long and painful one at the gas pumps.

B.C. currently has the highest gas prices in North America. A recent poll by the Angus Reid Institute showed nine-in-ten drivers in B.C. have noticed a major increase in gas prices, and 59 per cent of residents feel the provincial government isn’t doing enough to address the issue.

Most importantly, 50 per cent of B.C. residents say rising gas prices are making it harder to afford basic necessities. One-in-three of those who have been affected by the rising prices say they have been driving less, and another quarter say they have been filling up less.

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People are quick to point fingers in any direction to get to the heart of the issue. Some blame the carbon tax, while others blame oil companies for allegedly price gouging consumers for pure profit. The truth, according to a market snapshot released by the National Energy Board, is that there are multiple factors for B.C.’s high gas prices.

As per April 2019 statistics: in Vancouver, the price of crude oil is 51 cents per litre, 10 per cent below the national average. However, the cost of refining the crude oil in to gasoline is 52.1 cents per litre, roughly double the Canadian average refining margin.

The marketing margin for gasoline, the costs associated with selling it to consumers at the pump, is 10.5 cents per litre, approximately 69 percent higher than the Canadian average. Finally, taxes on gas were 53.9 cents per litre, approximately 21 percent higher than the Canadian average.

Another element of the issue is the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. The pipeline currently provides B.C. with 28 thousand barrels a day of refined petroleum products. It also supplies the Parkland Refinery in Burnaby with around 50 thousand barrels a day of crude oil. Even if the expansion is completed, it may not result in lower gas prices.

On average, B.C. consumed 96 thousand barrels a day of gasoline in 2018. To feed the demand for refined petroleum products, B.C. has to get it not only from local refineries and Alberta, but also by barge from the United States, which inflates the price at the pump.

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Vancouver Island is not facing as steep of prices as Metro Vancouver, but the prices are having an impact.

Prices in Victoria vary between 157.9 at Costco and 161.9 downtown. In Duncan, gas is at 156.9, In Ladysmith, Nanaimo, and Parksville, the average cost is 153.9. Port Alberni is 156.9, Comox is 155.9, Campbell River is 152.9, Tofino is varied between 153.9 and 157.9, and Port Hardy is 167.9, the highest on Vancouver Island.

Prices are expected to continue rising throughout the summer.

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