Goldenites got some relief at the pump over the weekend as prices fell to 130.9 from 134.9 at the town’s various retailers. For some it was about time, as other communities in B.C. have celebrated much lower pricing for weeks.
Even with the price drop, locals are still paying much more for fuel than most.
According to bcgasprices.com, most stations in Kamloops are charging 115.9 for regular gas as of Nov. 3, while stations in Cranbrook are sitting at 123.9. Invermere’s Petro-Canada’s price is 127.9, while Revelstoke’s stations are actually charging more than Golden, at 134.9.
Of course, when you look at the price of fuel across the border, Goldenites could be excused for being a little more envious.
Stations in Banff and Canmore are charging about 110.9 and Calgarians are paying as little as a dollar per litre.
Higher prices are probably not news for drivers in Golden, but what might be particularly painful to see is that some areas have had their prices drop significantly more than in this area.
While Golden has lost just 10 cents per litre from its peak price point of 141.9, Abbotsford has shed over 20 cents from a high of nearly 1.35 in August to a low of 111.0 in late October. Vancouver, whose fuel prices are subject to additional taxation, peaked at about 1.43 in August and hit a low of 124.5 in October. The average price across B.C. was 1.38 at the beginning of August and sat at around 1.22 over the weekend.
According to Michael J. Ervin, an associate with Ontario-based The Kent Group who specializes in petroleum marketing economics, there are four factors that determine the price point in a given location: Crude oil cost, refiner margin, marketing margin, and taxes.
The primary reason prices have dropped across the board over the past couple months is the plummeting prices of crude oil.
“Crude prices have gone down and that has created a lower cost for refiners to buy that crude, and therefore they’re able to competitively ignore their wholesale prices to gasoline station marketers who in turn are able to offer lower prices to consumers.”
So why haven’t these savings been as evident in Golden? Ervin couldn’t declare any one reason for Golden’s prices, but did offer some potential reasons.
The main difference could lie in the marketing margin.
“If you see other places having gone down by a different amount than Golden for example…that would be an effect of the marketing margin not being the same in those two markets anymore.”
Another reason could be that, according to Ervin, there can be delays between price drops across separate communities.
“Sometimes, if the product turnover is less than in other markets, in other words inventory in one market on average doesn’t turn over as quickly, then the operators have to live with higher price gasoline in their tanks going through the pumps. The price then stays higher until they get a new load of gasoline, and then they can really sustainably lower their price.”
When asked if Golden’s isolated location led to consumers being gouged at the pump, Ervin said that wasn’t the case.
“There’s a number of gas stations in Golden…if there’s one industry that’s highly competitive it’s the industry of selling gas. I have never experienced a prolonged situation where oil companies agree to do that. That’s, frankly, against the law. It’s a question of competitive factors, those are the drivers,” he said.
On Monday, a thread was posted to a local Facebook group urging people to participate in a blockade, where individuals would line up their cars in order to prevent anyone from filling up their gas tanks.
Sgt. Troy Durand said that police were aware of the proposal, and while peaceful protests are obviously fair game, RCMP would have to lay charges on anyone participating in this sort of activity.
“People have the right to protest…(but)when you talk about preventing people from getting into a business, that’s illegal for sure,” he said. “They could get arrested and charged.”