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Drivers in British Columbia’s largest city, Vancouver, pay the highest prices for gas at the pump in North America, data from GasBuddy has revealed. The average price per gallon of gasoline sells for US$4.77 (C$1.62 per liter), Bloomberg quotes GasBuddy senior petroleum analyst Dan McTeague as saying. And things might just get worse.
British Columbia is heavily dependent on fuel imports from neighbor Alberta, home of the oilsands, which is now threatening to turn the taps off or at least reduce the flows of fuel considerably in a bid to make B.C. change its mind about the Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion.
For now, B.C. is staying strong, but things may change if prices at the pump surge to uncomfortable levels. After all, B.C. gets as much as 60 percent of its gasoline from Alberta and Albertan officials have repeatedly said that they are not making idle threats.
Indeed, earlier this month, the Albertan government introduced a bill giving it the powers to restrict oil flows outside the province. B.C.’s Attorney General threatened to sue if there was even a hint of discrimination in the bill, although British Columbia is not specifically mentioned.
But it’s not just the interprovincial spat that is pushing prices up. British Columbia also imports some gasoline from the United States, and the nearest refineries—in Washington state—are operating at reduced capacity amid maintenance season.
B.C.’s biggest refinery in Burnaby is just coming out of maintenance and this has inflated prices, too. Yet McTeague warns that even when it resumes normal operation, local drivers won’t feel relief: the Canadian dollar is weakening against the greenback, making imports costlier, and the gas transport network shortage in British Columbia is not going anywhere, adding upward pressure on prices.
Finally, there’s taxes. In Vancouver—and in B.C.—about a third of the price of gas at the pump is made up of taxes. Vancouver already has the fourth-highest tax burden on car fuels, and now a new carbon tax has been added to this burden, which is beginning this month.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.
I'm all about clean energy but ethanol is not the answer...
Helps clean the air too.
Just a thought, Vancouver