Filling up is coming with more sticker shock for B.C. drivers after gas prices in Metro Vancouver hit not only a record-high for the region but also a North American record, of $1.619/litre.

“Unprecedented and certainly painful ? there’s no other way of getting around it,” says Dan McTeague of gasbuddy.com. “These are historical prices, even by North American standards.”

The cost of gas in the Capital Region is no different. Many stations are still at record highs, charging $1.549 as a supply crunch and high U.S. dollar drive up prices. But could the controversial Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion ease the pain at the pump?

“Every single year, we lose about $15 billion from the Canadian economy because we only have one market for our oil exports ? the United States,” says prime minister Justin Trudeau, speaking in Vancouver.

Asked about high gas prices, Trudeau says that’s why moving ahead with the pipeline is so important.

“That level of dependency at any time is difficult, but at a time of protectionism and unpredictability in the United States, it makes sense to diversify our markets, to new markets across Asia and that’s why getting our oil resources safely and securely to new markets is so important,” Trudeau says.

Gas analysts say Trudeau’s right.

“The Trans Mountain pipeline will do two things,” explains McTeague. “It will bring 60,000 barrels of gasoline, diesel and light fuel into the Vancouver market, which can be barged to Vancouver Island.”

“The second fact is by allowing oil to international markets, the current price of Canadian oil is about $46 a barrel versus $68 for everyone else, and you’ll see those prices rise dramatically as other countries can basically thumb their nose at U.S. purchasers.”

McTeague says better prices for Canadian crude will boost the loonie, which will further shield us from higher prices since gas is priced in U.S. dollars ? leading to double-digit savings.

But for now, McTeague says we can expect Victoria’s gas prices to get close to $1.60/litre this summer unless Alberta makes good on its threat to turn off the taps.

“All bets are off if that happens,” McTeague says. “$1.60 will seem like a walk in the park as prices soar to more than $2/litre.”

Tess van Straaten