COLE HARBOUR, N.S. — Royden Akerley expected a small increase when filling up today, but not five cents a litre more.
“I don’t quite understand why we need to have it to be honest,” Akerley said. “We haven’t seen that much of an increase in the source cost of gas.”
The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board has set the minimum price for gas at 105.9 cents in Halifax. The highest price in the province is in Cape Breton at 107.8 cents per litre. Half of the increase is connected to a request by the province to up the wholesale margin for gasoline.
“It could also reflect the fact that the basis on which the utility board is making its weekly predictions maybe really shorting the refiners who are having to pay more for a whole host of reasons,” said Dan McTeague, the president of Canadians For Affordable Energy.
One reason the industry has given is that the pandemic has increased their costs to process oil and gas, while also keeping people off the roads. While the increase in the wholesale margins is an interim order, the industry is looking to make it permanent.
“Whether it’s reasonable or not, I think Canadians can expect that if they want so-called more regulation on gasoline then they best be prepared to pay for more gasoline and diesel,” McTeague said.
New Brunswick could also be on the cusp of a similar increase. Irving Oil has asked that wholesale margins be increased by 3.5 cents immediately. The company says they have not seen any increase in the wholesale margin since 2013.
Angela Drost topped up her tank on Friday and she says nobody likes to pay more but that the price increase could actually be a good sign.
“I wasn’t too pleased about it, but it’s bound to happen,” Drost said. “I’m hoping this might be a sign that things are getting better with the economy.”
McTeague says she’s right. He says consumer confidence is growing as we get closer to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I anticipate that by April or May, we could be back to prices in the $1.30 to $1.35 range,” McTeague said.
That’s a part of the return to normal following the pandemic that motorists say they could do without.
It did cost more to fill up Friday, but the price at the pumps is still 10 cents a litre cheaper than at this time last year.