Gas prices spotted at a Maple Ridge gas station in April. (Black Press Media files)

Oil companies, 24-cent gap between B.C., Alberta to be focus of gas price probe

Premier John Horgan called the spike in gas prices ‘alarming’

Oil companies will have to explain their gas prices as part of an investigation into B.C.’s soaring costs at the pump, the province says.

In a Tuesday morning news release, the province said the probe will include “compelling oil companies as witnesses to explain their prices to the commission.”

Premier John Horgan had initially called for the investigation in a May 7 letter to the B.C. Utilities Commission.

In it, Horgan asked for the commission to find out why wholesale – and pre-tax – prices are 24 cents higher in Vancouver than they are in Edmonton.

Tuesday saw gas prices reach 171.9 cents for a regular grade litre in Metro Vancouver. GasBuddy reports Edmonton prices at just 114.5 cents a litre.

READ MORE: 50% of B.C. drivers struggling financially amid high gas prices, poll says

Historically, the letter said, wholesale prices have been 2.5 to four cents more expensive in Vancouver.

“British Columbians want to know why refining margins are so much higher than in other parts of the country,” Horgan wrote.

“In March 2019, refining margins for Vancouver were more than double the Canadian average.”

Tuesday’s release said the commission will investigate fluctuations in gas prices, possible price fixing and gouging, as well as details in retail and wholesale prices between Vancouver and other North American cities.

“The rapid increase in gas prices in B.C. is alarming, increasingly out of line with the rest of Canada, and people in B.C. deserve answers,” said Horgan.

“We asked the BCUC to conduct a fair, transparent and comprehensive independent investigation. These terms provide the broad reach it needs to find answers and give recommendations to inform the path forward.”

READ MORE: BC Hydro powering up for more electric vehicle charging demand

READ MORE: More gasoline, less bitumen in Trans Mountain pipeline, B.C. premier urges Trudeau


@katslepian

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