Fuel costs spike again in N.L., in 18th price change in last 8 weeks

·3 min read
Newfoundland and Labrador's regulator changed fuel prices again Friday — the 18th time in under two months it has done so. (John Gushue/CBC - image credit)
Newfoundland and Labrador's regulator changed fuel prices again Friday — the 18th time in under two months it has done so. (John Gushue/CBC - image credit)
John Gushue/CBC
John Gushue/CBC

Newfoundland and Labrador's regulator has intervened to unexpectedly change fuel prices again — raising them all except for propane, just one day after its regular weekly price adjustment.

The Public Utilities Board cites "recent commodity market developments," for the deviation from its regular adjustment schedule.

"In the last few days there has been a significant upward shift in the benchmarks used by the board to set maximum prices for regulated petroleum products," it said in a news release.

On Friday morning, gas prices rose 8.2 cents per litre, bringing the cost of regular, self-serve up to $2.02 on the Avalon Peninsula — the first time it has passed the $2-per-litre mark since March 10, which was the first, and until Friday only, time gas surpassed $2 per litre in the area. Prices for gasoline now range between $2.02 and $2.14 across the island. In Labrador, prices range from $1.59 in the central region to $2.11 in Churchill Falls.

"I think they should drop the tax. I go through a lot of gas and I never know when I come to the pump what it's going to cost me today," Tina Ennis told CBC News shortly after filling up her car in St. John's.

"I think that would help us as a consumer. It's hard enough with food for a family. Everybody is hurting."

The price of diesel has skyrocketed, up 30.1 cents per litre on the island, raising the price to $2.59 on the Avalon Peninsula. In Labrador, diesel is up nearly 21 cents, to nearly $3 per litre in Churchill Falls and western Labrador.

The cost of furnace oil is up 26 cents, bringing the per-litre cost on the Avalon to between $1.93 and $1.97, before any taxes. The cost is over $2 in some rural areas of the island.

The Public Utilities Board normally sets fuel prices each Thursday, but has the power to respond to major shifts in the market and change prices accordingly.

"Such interventions are extremely rare," reads the PUB website.

Surprising changes

But Friday's price change is the 18th time the PUB has changed fuel prices since March 3, less than two months ago. Only nine of those changes were regularly scheduled.

"It has created a lot of uncertainty and discomfort and you find yourself rushing to get to the pump the moment it drops down," said Chris Jackson.

"It's frustrating to see it drop down further or you wake up in the morning and see it's jumped way too high again."

The first unscheduled change came March 4, shortly after Russia's invasion of Ukraine sent world oil markets reeling.

"The board continues to monitor the daily benchmark prices for motor fuels and heating fuels using the prescribed sources set out in the Petroleum Products Regulations and will adjust maximum prices outside the scheduled adjustment if circumstances warrant," said the board's media release.

The following chart shows how gas prices have changed recently at Newfoundland and Labrador retailers, as reported by users of the GasBuddy.com website.

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