While fuel prices in Saskatchewan continue to decline, a price war between two rural gas bars reminded drivers of better days at the pump.
The Esso and Gas Plus bars in Blaine Lake, Sask., a town of 500 people located about 80 kilometres north of Saskatoon, are on opposite sides of the highway.
Melissa Johnson, the Esso's manager, said there's an understanding that the Gas Plus would remain only two cents lower than her fuel offerings, although occasionally chose to dip to three or four cents below their price.
On Monday, the Esso owner took exception to the Gas Plus's low price and further lowered their own. The ensuing competition led to prices as low as 94.9 cents a litre for regular fuel at Esso.
Gas Plus did not return a request for comment.
Johnson has worked at that Esso for nearly two decades. She said she has never seen a price war lead to such extraordinary lows at the two stations. She said it prompted people to drive from Prince Albert, Sask. — a more than 100-kilometre trek — just to get gas.
"There was people calling from everywhere; I don't even know where the people are calling from today, but [we've probably] had four dozen people calling this morning. Our phone won't stop ringing," she said.
"All in all, it's worked out for the customers."
Jatinder Sherma, the Esso's owner, said it wasn't a bitter competition, but estimates he lost about $4,000 to $5,000 dollars to the contest.
"They learned and I learned," Sherma said.
The two gas stations have reverted to their initial prices, similar to the rest of the province.
Lowest gas prices in Sask. in months
Fuel prices had been steadily rising since early January 2022, before spiking by about 20 cents per litre from March 1 to March 9.
Then, they continued to rise gradually, with the average price of a litre of regular fuel peaking at a little over $2 about a month ago.
In late June, that pump pressure started to alleviate, bringing back a semblance of normal for drivers across Canada. It hovered at a little more than $1.66 per litre in both Regina and Saskatoon as of Tuesday afternoon.
Fuel costs are the lowest they've been since May.
Saskatchewan is the second cheapest province for gas, behind Alberta, at about 168.8 cents per litre, said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, a company that reports fuel prices at gas stations in Canada, among other countries.
"A lot of that has to do with the declining price of oil due to economic concerns."
He said that there's been an economic slowdown in the U.S., China and Europe that's "likely to lead to a drop in overall oil demand."
Oil barrels were $125 per barrel in early June but dropped to about $95 per barrel as of Monday, he said.
De Haan said he hopes gas prices will lower by five to 10 cents per litre over the next couple weeks, but remaining geopolitical tensions or natural weather disasters, like a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, could alter that.
In saying that, he doesn't expect gas prices to return to what we're used to until after some global issues resolve, like the Russian invasion of Ukraine.