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Gas prices to approach $1.50 record in Metro Vancouver

Gasoline prices have climbed with the rise in crude oil and the fall in the value of the loonie against the U.S. dollar. - Black Press file photo
Gasoline prices have climbed with the rise in crude oil and the fall in the value of the loonie against the U.S. dollar.
— image credit: Black Press file photo

The onset of spring has pushed up both tulips and gasoline prices.

And industry watchers expect Metro Vancouver pump prices to close in on their all-time record of about $1.50 per litre of regular gas in the weeks ahead.

Average prices were around $1.44 per litre Tuesday, up more than 15 per cent from the mid-December low of around $1.24.

Jason Toews, founder of the gasbuddy.com website, expects prices will rise further – up to a point.

"I don't think we're going to see record level prices," Toews said.

"I think there's going to be a lot of resistance at $1.50. It's a psychological barrier. People really start changing their driving habits and it starts having an impact on demand."

Metro Vancouver average pump prices approached but essentially bounced off $1.50 twice last year, in mid-May and mid-July.

Toews said Abbotsford gas prices, which were just under $1.30 Tuesday, could hit $1.40 a litre this spring or summer before lower prices return in the fall.

Better spring weather always brings more driving, increased demand and therefore higher prices.

But Toews noted gas prices are somewhat higher now than they were at the same time last year.

Crude oil accounts for 70 per cent of the cost of gasoline and it's almost 10 per cent higher than in early spring of 2013.

But the bigger factor is the Canadian dollar, which has slid nearly a dime against the U.S. greenback.

Since oil is priced in U.S. dollars, the loonie's weakness means the price Canadian refiners actually pay for crude is about 20 per cent higher now than a year ago, Toews said.

"The Canadian dollar is definitely having an impact."

Toews said his prediction of no new record is contingent on no major international crisis that sends crude prices soaring, or a production problem similar to the fire at Washington's Cherry Point refinery in 2012.

"If there's some sort of supply disruption then all bets are off."

Vancouver Historical Gas Price Charts Provided by GasBuddy.com
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