Albertans told to expect to pay even more at the pump as prices jump overnight

Alberta motorists, who have seen the cost of filling up their vehicles surge in recent days, could see prices climb even higher due to volatile oil markets and the arrival of the summer driving season.

Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said Wednesday the national average gasoline price climbed by two cents overnight, reaching $1.83 per litre. In Calgary, the average is now about $1.60 per litre.

The surge in diesel prices has been particularly strong, De Haan said. 

“We’re at a point where oil markets are very tight, inventories are very low, and there is not much capacity for refineries to increase production of these fuels,” he said.

“And so we’re just going to likely continue to see upward pressure on the entire barrel, whether it’s gasoline, diesel or jet fuel. It’s not looking good for any of those products.”

Like a roller-coaster

De Haan said volatility in the price of West Texas Intermediate — the benchmark North American oil price — is also making it difficult for gasoline buyers to set prices.

“It’s a roller-coaster ride,” he said.

“One day, the wholesale price of gasoline could jump five to 10 cents a litre; the next day, it could go down three to 10 cents a litre, and the next day it could go right back up.

“All of that volatility, it’s very difficult for station owners to address with their prices.”

He said the transition to the summer driving season has also been adding to the price for the past week or so.

The impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on oil markets is a major factor as well. The attack, and subsequent moves by the United States and allies to curtail imports of Russian oil, has tightened supply worldwide.

Calgarian Jay Park says higher fuel prices have him driving less these days. (Axel Tardieu, Radio-Canada)

Gasoline prices also rose in April as the federal carbon tax climbed to about 11 cents per litre, up roughly two cents.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney hit pause on the provincial fuel tax, meaning the government will not collect the provincial tax of 13 cents per litre of gasoline or diesel until at least June 30.

Calgarians filling up their vehicles on Wednesday said they’ve definitely noticed the price jump.

Jay Park, an accountant in his 20s, said he sold an old car because of rising fuel costs and is working from home some of the time and otherwise using transit more frequently to get to work.

It’s just so expensive to get around these days,” Park said, adding he intends to ride his bike more often as weather improves.

Retiree Jack Connell said he’s also driving less.

“I’m retired,” he said. “So I don’t have anywhere to go, so I just don’t go.”

GasBuddy’s De Haan suggested that with the arrival of the summer driving season, motorists shop around for lower prices. He said people can also save money by driving more fuel efficiently.

“Slowing down 10 kilometres an hour can drastically increase your fuel efficiency, especially at higher speeds,” he said.

“So if you’re taking a trip this summer, if you want to do your bit to help lower prices, try to reduce your consumption by driving more fuel efficiently.

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