Vancouver Island is playing follow the leader when it comes to fluctuating fuel prices.
So says Toronto-based gas price expert Dan McTeague.
McTeague said Vancouver mirrors a spike in world markets, while the island tends to hold off for a few days or weeks before following suit.
The same goes when world fuel prices drop, he added.
“There’s always a bit of lag time, I find, on the island, that doesn’t exist in Vancouver,” McTeague said. “That’s probably the result of turnover, different economics, (and) much of what you have there isn’t supplied by pipeline, it’s actually brought over by barge.”
Last week, prices dropped by as much as 15 cents at stations across the Lower Mainland.
McTeague said this is in large part due to a fall in prices south of the border.
“We follow the Pacific Northwest market in the United States to a tee,” he said. “And that dropped dramatically, by about 45, 50 cents a gallon in a span of just a couple of days. We do follow what’s happening south of the border. Many people complain or lament that.”
Once again, McTeague said there was a delayed reaction on the island.
“When Vancouver’s prices drop as they did historically last week, we don’t necessarily see that (drop) happen immediately but it’s coming, it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing a lot more stations reflecting the $1.33 (per litre), $1.34, all the way down to $1.28 range.”
Stations across Campbell River were selling regular unleaded for just under $1.40 per litre this morning.
Further south, the Courtenay Costco had a relatively bargain price of $1.23 per litre. Four other stations were at $1.34 per litre.
But Powell River is getting the short end of the stick, with prices ranging between $1.54 and $1.60 per litre for regular unleaded.
McTeague said there is no easy answer to why the price at the pump is so high in Powell River.
“Powell River should not be in the same tax area as Vancouver with TransLink so the difference may be a lot more than what meets the eye and that’s why it’s so frustrating,” McTeague said.
“It’s a question of transportation, it’s a question of convenience and I think that’s one of the reasons why prices may be as high as they are. Having said that, though, they may also be having had to pay for wholesale prices (from) two or three weeks ago when they were 15 cents a litre higher, so they haven’t been able to come down because they’re still selling off inventory that they bought over two weeks ago.”
Meanwhile, McTeague said it’s best for drivers across the island and Sunshine Coast to buy their gas in the evening, never in the morning, and weekend nights “are the best.”
Looking ahead to the rest of the year, McTeague doesn’t see any dramatic rises on the horizon.
“I think it’s going to be pretty stable,” he said.
“The world economy is not doing that great. I don’t think there’s anything that’s suggesting that there are going to be any disruptions in supply. Normally this time of year things tend to be pretty quiet. If it’s any help, save for the government’s increase in carbon taxes, we’re paying pretty much this year what we were paying this time last year and that lasted right into the first or second week of February.”