Gasoline station in Parksville this spring as prices crept towards record levels in B.C. (Black Press Media)

VIDEO: B.C. gasoline prices higher but reason not clear, inquiry finds

B.C. Utilities Commission finds no evidence of collusion

Gasoline prices in southern B.C. run about 13 cents per litre higher than other jurisdictions, and six cents higher in the north, for reasons that a B.C. Utilities Commission panel was not able to determine.

The BCUC released its final report on B.C. gasoline and diesel prices Friday, finding that while there is small number of wholesale suppliers to B.C., the panel found no evidence of collusion between producers.

The reasons for the price gap with other parts of Canada are “unexplained,” panel chair David Morton said Friday.

The panel says the B.C. government could consider regulating retail prices, as is done in Nova Scotia, with a price set once a week and the cost of regulation added to the price as an additional tax.

Jobs, Trade and Technology Minister Bruce Ralston said the BCUC findings vindicate the sense B.C. customers have that they are being “ripped off,” with wholesale supply restricted to four major producers.

“Our government is concerned with the allocation of refined gasoline flowing into B.C., as well as the lack of transparency around how the gas price is set,” Ralston said.

Premier John Horgan called the inquiry in May after gasoline prices soared to new highs, breaking the North American record in Metro Vancouver with prices reaching $1.70 per litre. Horgan hinted at collusion between fuel producers and retailers to increase profits, rejecting suggestions that his government’s opposition to expanding the Trans Mountain pipeline adds to supply restrictions that push B.C. prices up.

Horgan also directed that the BCUC not to consider fuel taxes for carbon emissions, transit and federal and provincial taxes, which are among the highest in Canada.

RELATED: Horgan says spike in gasoline prices is profit, not taxes

RELATED: Trans Mountain gives contractors 30 days to get ready

Representatives of gasoline suppliers appeared at the hearings, rejecting the suggestion they were orchestrating high prices and detailing the rising taxes and cost pressures on B.C. Among them was Parkland Fuels, which now runs the former Chevron refinery in Burnaby that is the last producer of gasoline and diesel in southern B.C.

“With the supply of refined products shipped via the Trans Mountain pipeline having been sharply constrained since 2015, B.C. demand has been met by ever more expensive sources of supply from as far away as California, the U.S. Midwest and the Gulf Coast,” Parkland said in its submission to the BCUC.

Parkland listed the cost increases it and other producers have faced in B.C. since 2015, including carbon tax increases, a 21 per cent increase in minimum wage, credit card costs and rising property values. B.C.’s carbon tax rose in April to $40 a tonne of carbon dioxide emissions, which translates to 8.89 cents on a litre of gasoline and 10.23 cents for a litre of more carbon-intensive diesel.

Trans Mountain’s 65-year-old line delivers refined fuels as well as crude from the Edmonton area to Burnaby refining and shipping, as well as refineries in Washington. National Energy Board statistics show that for 2018, more than half of its flow, 158,000 barrels per day, was crude exports to the U.S., with another 62,000 barrels per day directed to export via tankers filling at Westridge terminal in Burnaby. Another 47,000 went to the Burnaby refinery and 27,000 barrels per day was devoted to refined products.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Oyster River department battles Black Creek house fire

UPDATED: House suffers extensive damage, no one inside at time

Campbell River fruit tree project carries on despite pandemic

More volunteers wanted for Greenways’ initiative

Downtown storm drain repair will begin on August 10 in Campbell River

Starting Monday, drivers and pedestrians will expect minor delays between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m

What does the nearly $10 million RCMP contract get the people of Campbell River?

Despite discussion around police funding, response techniques and use of force, the… Continue reading

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Missing teen visiting Courtenay found safe

She had last been seen going for a walk on Aug. 6

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

U’mista Cultural Centre will host a native art contest to raise funds for artists

All artists of Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw descent are being called to participate in the contest to be held on August 28

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

Most Read