If your tank is looking empty, you’d better fill up now as gas prices are forecast to hit 154 cents a litre by the end of the week.
“I’m leaning 75 per cent that we’ll be $1.54 by Saturday or Sunday,” said GasBuddy senior analyst Dan McTeague.
“I would refer to it as a chronic shortage and it isn’t going to change anytime soon.”
Currently, gas prices are sitting at 148.9 cents a litre in Metro Vancouver, including the region’s gas taxes, and are expected to hit 150.9 cents by Wednesday – 19 cents above this time last year.
“With average consumption… that’s $500 more a year for a conservative driver,” said McTeague.
GasBuddy had predicted peak Vancouver gas prices of $1.52 in their annual gas forecast and McTeague said he didn’t expect to see prices top that so early in the year.
He noted that the region gets its gas from just a few sources: the Parkland refinery in Burnaby and a few refineries down in Washington State.
The Burnaby refinery has been down for long term maintenance for weeks.
“They suggested that the down time would be anywhere from three to six weeks; we’re into their fourth week and it’s likely to stay down for another two to three weeks,” said McTeague.
Compounding the issue is that two of the four Washington State refineries that supply B.C. are scheduled to shut down in 26 days.
The Parkland shutdown is raising prices by five to seven cents, McTeague said.
But even if the Burnaby refinery does reopen soon, any relief that Lower Mainland drivers feel will end soon: April 1 marks the introduction of a new $35 a ton increase to carbon taxes and soon after that, more expensive summer gasoline hits the pumps and summer driving demand traditionally pushes up prices.
“We’re going to see days where we hit near $1.60 a litre, I have no doubt in my mind,” said McTeague.
“That will exceed all time records.”
The highest gas prices McTeague remembers seeing are in the mid-upper 1.50s in 2013.
McTeague said he doesn’t see any quick fixes.
He predicts that Lower Mainland drivers will continue to head south of the border to fill up their tanks, even as places like Whatcom County in Washington State are seeing a 20 cent gas price surge in reaction to more and more Canadians heading down to fill up.
It’s not a recent problem, he notes.
“We’re reaping a very bitter harvest, mostly as a result of not forecasting or taking into consideration the population growth in our region,” said McTeague.
“You can’t displace the importance of diesel or gasoline to an economy like B.C.’s.”