Many drivers facing rising gas prices

MONTREAL — Drivers facing sticker shock from rising gas prices in many parts of Canada should expect to dig even deeper into their wallets as the summer approaches, says a leading expert on gas prices.

The average price for regular unleaded in the country was about $1.15 per litre as of Wednesday afternoon, according to gas price tracking firm GasBuddy. That’s up almost five cents a litre in one day and 20 per cent from a year ago.

“The numbers are eye-popping but they’re also a source of public angst,” said Dan McTeague, a senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy.

The combination of higher ingredient costs for summer fuel, growing U.S. demand and the lower value of the loonie have caused prices in Eastern Canada to hit their highest level since October 2014, he said.

The seasonal switch from winter fuel involves the replacement of butane with more expensive alkylates in blended summer gasoline. The growing use of premium fuels for new cars requiring turbo-charged power is also a factor, McTeague added.

Pump prices in the Greater Toronto Area hovered around $1.16, while in Montreal they were $1.25, according to GasBuddy’s website. The highest average gas prices in Canada, aside from the Far North, were in Vancouver at $1.39, and the lowest were in Stonewall, Man., north of Winnipeg, at 99.5 cents.

McTeague said he sees prices rising another three to five cents per litre in Eastern Canada.

“They may stabilize a little bit throughout April and beyond geopolitical considerations, I sense that we are going to be seeing even higher prices throughout the summer, likely due to U.S. demand, which continues to exceed expectations,” he said.

More Americans hitting the road could also mean a third consecutive year of record fuel demand, which will translate into higher pump prices in Canada, he added.

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