EDITORIAL: Pain in the gas tank

If people aren’t talking about the weather or the deer, they are talking about the price of gas.

If people aren’t talking about the weather or the deer, they are talking about the price of gas.

And they fume. Gas prices everywhere have dipped recently, and that relieves a bit of rancour, but the impression persists that gas in the South Okanagan-Similkameen is still more expensive than in other centres.

And maybe some days it is.

However on Monday gas in Princeton, according to bcgasprices.com, was 98.9 at four locations. In Penticton on the same day the cheapest gas was just one penny a litre less, 97.9. Most stations in Penticton were also selling for 98.9 and there was one station with the price of 99.9. Gas in Keremeos was 99.9 and gas in Kelowna ranged between 97.9 to 99.9.

The cheapest gas in British Columbia Monday could be found in Prince George where customers at Costco could fuel up for 82.9. Gas was also significantly cheaper at some stations in Abbotsford and Chilliwack. If you lived in Royston on Monday you were paying 119.9 per litre. Gas prices in B.C. are very literally all over the map.

Jason Parent, vice president of fuel industry consultant MJ Ervin Associates, said there is nothing nefarious or unusual behind our area’s gas pricing.

“This isn’t really unique to you guys. It’s just common to smaller communities and it happens all over the country.”

According to Parent there are many markets where retailers don’t feel the need to be competitive to the point of dropping prices that might trigger a price war. He noted communities with one especially price-competitive retailer, such as Costco, will always have cheaper gas.

As well, he said, in smaller markets where the volumes of gas sold per dealer are lower than in larger centres, gas is naturally priced higher in order for retailers to make a profit. He added that consumers generally do not leave their hometown to drive somewhere else just to buy gas.  Parent’s advice – and this is paraphrasing– is to suck it up.

“Really as a consumer there is not a whole lot you can do about the price of gas. There’s supply and demand and about the only thing you could do is simply drive less but that’s not going to necessarily drop the price.”

-Andrea DeMeer, Similkameen Spotlight


Penticton Western News

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