Drivers in Greater Victoria aren’t likely to see any relief at the pumps as gas prices are set to climb this spring.
Dan McTeague, a GasBuddy senior petroleum industry analyst, said prices will start to go up in April as the first of that month is the date when the carbon tax rate will increase $5 a tonne to $35 a tonne. McTeague said the carbon tax adds an additional 1.22 cents. There will also be a two per cent gas tax increase, from 3.5 cents to 5.5. cents, in the Capital Region, to pay for improvements to local bus services.
“April first also represents what we call the “shoulder season” for refineries. That’s when they begin introducing summer blends of gasoline, usually adding about four cents a litre,” McTeague said.
McTeague said in the worst case scenario, prices could rise seven or eight cents a litre between April 1 and April 18.
After that, prices are expected to stay in the current range due to summer traffic. Prices could stay high in the fall as well.
“We could see prices touching or exceeding a $1.50 at some stage perhaps, in a worst-case scenario, but I think more likely a $1.45 looks like the number that we’ll be looking at throughout much of the summer,” McTeague said.
However, prices in Greater Victoria are expected to stay steady throughout this week. Most gas stations are at 141.9 cents per litre or $1.42.
“Retailers, gas stations, tend to shave their retail margins or absorb any smaller increases. It’s only when you see a four or five cent increase here in Victoria that you see prices moving up,” McTeague said.
“So for now, high as they may be, this is probably something you are going to have to get used to for the next several weeks.”
Metro Vancouver drivers will see even higher prices this week compared to Greater Victoria and the rest of Vancouver Island. By Wednesday, McTeague said gas prices in Metro Vancouver will cross the $1.50 per litre and could potentially reach $1.54 per litre by Sunday.
“There may be some exceptions, certainly areas further east where you have different in tax treatment,” McTeague said. He added that prices will probably stay steady until the United States Department of Energy inventory report and hear if there’s any other refineries that are planning to find extra gasoline to compensate for their maintenance period.”
Gas prices originally spiked in Greater Victoria last week due in part to springtime maintenance at local refineries, and a planned shutdown at the Parkland refinery in Burnaby. The last two months have been the highest prices at the start of the year since 2013. That refinery has been offline for more than a month and now, two of the four Washington State refineries that supply B.C. are scheduled to shut down in 26 days.
“The idea that somehow we’re going to continue to benefit from cheap oil or competitive forces in gasoline, I think those days are over. Demand is rising and supply is simply not there,” McTeague said.
Not all hope is lost for Victoria drivers. McTeague said there are slightly cheaper prices for people travelling out of the Greater Victoria area.
“In the area that’s not served by transit, there is about a three-and-a-half cent differential,” McTeague said.