June 5, 2014 11:56 am
Updated: June 5, 2014 6:37 pm

Gas prices in Canada ‘mild’ compared to most other countries: report

A new analysis from news agency Bloomberg suggests Canadians experience only "mild pain at the pump."

Credit/Getty Images

Think you have it bad at the gas pump? Try living in Greece, South Africa or even Norway – an oil-rich country just like Canada.

Greeks and South Africans spend roughly five per cent of their incomes just on gasoline, compared to about three per cent in Canada. The price of a gallon in Norway, meanwhile, is $10.79.

That works out to more than $2.85 a litre, or more than double the average Canadian retail price at the time the pricing samples were taken this spring.

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In fact, out of 61 countries ranked by news agency Bloomberg this week, Canada sits well back (45th) from the top of the pack in terms of the price for a unit of gas.

We do rank high when it comes to the amount of money gasoline chews up for the average annual income – seventh among all nations surveyed.

READ MORE: What’s behind the recent surge in gas prices?

Our problem – which is one we share with SUV and truck-loving Americans – is that we use a lot of it motoring around town or on long road trips.

According to the World Bank, Canadian per capita consumption of gasoline amounted to 886 kilograms of oil equivalent in 2011, the latest data available. Only the United States, at 1,105 kg, ranked higher globally.

“As with many countries, cheap gas goes hand in hand with higher consumption,” the Bloomberg report said. “Only Americans use more gas per capita than Canadians do.”

Bigger rides

We are also burning up fuel with bigger rides.

As this week’s sales numbers from vehicle makers show, car models are declining while light trucks (which run the gamut from Escalades to F-150s) are poised to surpass the one million sales mark for the first time this year.

READ MORE: Truck and SUVs are on fire, while car models lag (again)

Still, some domestic experts suggest Canadians are still lining the pockets of oil companies and refineries.

“People shouldn’t get a false impression that they’re somehow getting a deal here in Canada,” Dan McTeague, former Liberal MP and founder of gas price tracking website, tomorrowsgaspricetoday.com, said.

McTeague said the wholesale world price for gasoline was 84 cents a litre at the moment, while retail prices across the country are still comfortably above $1.30/litre.

Wholesale gasoline contracts for July were selling on Thursday for US$2.95 a gallon, or just over $0.78 cents a litre (a gallon is just over 3.75 litres).

McTeague said he has not reviewed the Bloomberg report.

‘People shouldn’t get a false impression that they’re somehow getting a deal here in Canada’ – Dan McTeague

The data used in the global comparison was taken between the end of March and April 29 – or right when retail prices were rising fast across Canada.

The per-litre average for Canada was $1.31, according to the report.

The most expensive market in the world for gas was, in a bit of surprise, Norway, a country rich in oil.

“The Scandinavian country doesn’t subsidize fuel at the pump, using its oil profits instead for national services, such as free college education and savings for infrastructure improvements,” the report said.

The least expensive was Venezuela, a country whose people view dirt cheap gas as a “birthright.”

The average price of gallon of gas in the South American country was just 0.04 cents (Canadian). It would take $1.56 to fill up a Chevy Suburban in Venezuela, compared to about $143.91 in Canada.

“Venezuela is a poor country that burns through gas like a rich one… it costs less to fill a tank than to buy a cup of coffee.”

Of the 61 countries ranked in the report, Canada was the 45th-cheapest market for gas, according to the analysis.

Combined with our relatively high incomes (average per capita income of $137/day, according to the International Monetary Fund), “these stats add up to cheap gas and mild pain at the pump.”

A screenshot from Bloomberg’s interactive

Canada’s ranking in 61-country survey of gas prices, how much a unit of gas costs as percentage of average daily income, and as a percentage of an average annual income. (Bloomberg)

WATCH: Gas prices were nearing all-time high this spring. Shirlee Engel explains what’s behind the latest increase.

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