Sandy to boost Canadian fuel prices

The National Energy Board warns Canadians will pay more to fill up their cars and heat their homes this winter, in part because of superstorm Sandy.

The federal energy industry regulator, is its latest Winter Energy Outlook, predicts the national average retail price for unleaded gasoline will average between $1.20 and $1.40 per litre this winter.

“As a result of U.S. refinery outages in the autumn, including the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and low inventories in the U.S., Canadians can expect to pay slightly more for their gasoline this winter,” it said.

Although increasing tension in the Middle East, with attacks between Israel and Hamas forces in the Gaza Strip and sanction imposed on Iran over its nuclear program have put upward pressure on crude prices, it says, that will likely be balanced by slowing growth and demand in the U.S., Japan and Europe.

It’s forecasting crude prices of between $85 and $95 US a barrel. It also predicts the average heating oil price in Canada, including taxes, will average between $1.15 and $1.35 per litre this winter, slightly higher than a year ago.

That will also be a result of this fall’s refinery shutdowns, but should be mitigated somewhat by lower demand because of what’s expected to be mild weather in the Maritimes.

It says Canadians can also expect to pay more for natural gas this winter but supply will be plentiful.

The higher price will be a result of higher demand.

“Production increases in the U.S. and an unseasonably warm winter last year resulted in a large storage overhang and 10-year low prices this spring,” the NEB said.

“In response to these low (natural) gas prices, demand for gas from the U.S. power generation sector has increased considerably, resulting in a narrowing of the balance between supply and demand by mid-2012.”

It expects natural gas prices to range between $2.75 and $3.25 per gigajoule.

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