Penticton drivers have so far managed to swerve around gasoline price increases seen elsewhere in B.C. this summer, but one industry watcher predicts a spike is just around the bend.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if it came today or tomorrow for Penticton,” GasBuddy co-founder Jason Toews said Thursday from his office in Regina. “We’re seeing prices jumping all across the country and B.C.”
Since last week, the average price in B.C. has risen by four cents a litre to $1.441, according to GasBuddy, a website that tracks gas prices in cities across Canada and the U.S.
Toews said that spike is largely due to increased demand during summer driving season, although the price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil has also risen by US $13 to $107 a barrel in the past month.
Adding to the probability of a hike at the pumps here is an upward trend in the cost of gas at the nearest depot in Kamloops.
The wholesale price there has shot up by 4.9 cents to 89.6 cents a litre since July 1, according to data from Natural Resources Canada.
Toews said wholesale prices “more indirectly” affect retail prices than other factors.
“If the wholesale price goes up by four cents, that generally means the retail price should go up by a similar amount,” he said, adding there can be a lag for retailers who are sitting on older supply.
“If I got my gas, say, on Monday, and the wholesale price goes up Wednesday, I still have gas in my tanks that I bought for a lower price so I might not raise my (retail) price that quickly.”
As of Thursday morning, gas prices across the Okanagan ranged from a low of $1.309 per litre in Vernon to a high of $1.359 in Penticton.
That ongoing disparity has come under scrutiny from Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Dan Albas, who is still awaiting the outcome of a complaint he helped a constituent file with the federal Competition Bureau.
Albas heard about the issue shortly after he took office in 2011. At the time, people were angry about variations between communities, particularly Penticton and Kelowna.
“There seemed to be a decoupling in some areas and people were asking why,” Albas said
He did his own research, then helped the constituent, whom he declined to identify, submit the complaint earlier this year.
Albas is unsure if the Competition Bureau will look into the the complaint, since it doesn’t usually comment on matters that are under investigation.