March 16, 2019 5:45 pm
Updated: March 16, 2019 6:01 pm

Gas prices to take off again in Metro Vancouver — just in time for spring break

Gas prices are expected to rise again in Metro Vancouver this weekend.

THE CANADIAN PRESS / Graham Hughes
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Spring break may have finally arrived, but so has more pain at the pumps.

Petroleum analysts say gas prices are set to rise once again Sunday to nearly $1.52 a litre for regular fuel, matching prices last seen in November.

The increase is being blamed on the annual switch to the more expensive summer blend of gasoline, along with spring maintenance on two of the four major refineries south of the border that serve the Pacific Northwest.

READ MORE: Gas prices rise in Metro Vancouver and more increases could be on the way


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“Shell and BP at Cherry Point are both huge suppliers for the region, including for us here in Vancouver, so that creates a bit of pressure for supply, and that’s the main reason why we’re seeing such a spike,” Dan McTeague with GasBuddy.com said Saturday.

What’s worse, McTeague said this won’t be the end of rising costs this spring, as increases to B.C.’s carbon tax go into effect April 1 that will take prices up another 1.1 cents per litre plus GST.

READ MORE: Metro Vancouver mayors approve province’s 1.5 per cent gas tax hike to fund transit

The province has committed to raising the carbon tax $5 a tonne per year until 2021, when the total would reach $50 a tonne. That means the increase at the pumps will be permanent going forward, McTeague said.

“For prices to spike this early, it definitely looks like there is a supply crunch, and motorists are going to continue to pay these very high prices for a number of reasons,” he said.

WATCH: (Aired March 4) Dan McTeague talks more about the rising gas prices in Metro Vancouver

The new increases come just days after drivers saw prices rise as much as six cents a litre last week, with prices climbing as high as $1.48 at some stations in Vancouver.

McTeague said those increases were due to a regular demand-versus-supply issue as stations prepared for the summer blend switch, but added between the summer blend and the carbon tax increase, B.C. as a whole will be seeing high prices for quite some time.

READ MORE: COMMENTARY: Can the BC NDP carbon tax plan stand up under pressure?

“We were seeing similar prices around $1.60 here and there last year, but this one will likely be permanent for the summer,” McTeague said. “If something truly bad happens, dare I say it, we could even see prices go as high as $1.70 a litre.”

Last spring also saw a drastic rise in gas prices, with blame being shifted between the provincial government and the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which was halted around the same time.

McTeague said the main issue now is getting those refineries back online, which he predicts may not happen until the middle of spring.

“It looks like this is going to be the summer of discontent as far as prices at the pumps,” he warned.

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