Gas prices spike, will continue climbing in B.C.: expert

After a shock jump of about 15 cents a litre for regular gasoline in two days at stations around the Lower Mainland, one expert warns that drivers shouldn’t expect relief anytime soon.

Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at, says this is typical for the time of year.

“We start to see the seasonality kicking in, demand is starting to go up, we’re already transitioning to more expensive summer blends of gasoline and refineries are also starting maintenance,” he told CityNews.

He says this isn’t just affecting the Lower Mainland or even B.C. It’s also hitting the U.S., so heads up if you plan on driving south to fill up.

“We’ve seen areas of the Pacific Northwest also jumping in response to that seasonal switchover, that’s pushed gas prices up, not just in Vancouver, but it’s about to push prices up south of the border as well in Oregon and Washington state.”

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De Haan says the spike B.C. is seeing will start trickling east across the rest of the country as well.

“For all the same reasons. Rising demand for gasoline as temperatures begin to warm up. Refineries doing maintenance before the start of the summer driving season and the switchover to costly, summer gasoline.”

He adds it’s key that refineries get any maintenance work done by the May long weekend.

“Unfortunately, the spring surge is here. It will likely be here probably through April or May — that’s when prices will likely peak and start to recede.”

De Haan stresses, that in addition to high taxes in B.C., the switch in gas blends is a big part of the spike in price.

“There’s a lot of different and varying emissions rules across much of North America. A lot of what we see in Canada is something that was produced in the United States. The EPA in the United States requires different blends to meet emissions standards in various areas, depending on the amount of air pollution in the warmer months, so there are different blends in the summer depending on how big of a city you’re in.

“The bigger cities have to use something more clean burning because there are a lot more vehicles on the road. The more cleaning burning gasoline tends to be more expensive.”

He explains winter gasoline has more butane in it, which contributes to low-level ozone but “it’s also far cheaper.”

De Haan doesn’t expect any more major jumps in the short-term but says overall, the increase in gas prices in B.C. will continue and some stations across the Lower Mainland, could hit $2 per litre next week but believes that’s more likely to happen in the next four to six weeks.

Editor’s note: This article has been corrected to show the price spike B.C. is seeing will start moving east across Canada, according to De Haan.

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