A UBC business professor is warning motorists of volatility ahead while a US agency expects lower but still elevated prices in 2023.
Heading into the first weekend of August, BC gas prices continue to follow a continent-wide decline attributed to easing demand and increased supplies of crude oil.
A number of Costco locations in BC were selling regular gasoline around $1.75 per litre, including the Courtenay location for $1.72, according to consumer reports on GasBuddy.com on Friday. And at least three stations in Kamloops were offering $1.75 gas at some points in the day.
In Metro Vancouver, gas prices at the 10 cheapest locations hovered between $1.82, at the Victoria Drive Chevron, and $1.86, at a Shell station in Surrey.
The best deals in the region remain across the border in Blaine where gas was priced at US$4.73 per US gallon, which works out to about C$1.65 per litre.
Vancouver prices peaked in early June, reaching about $2.34, according to GasBuddy.
Can drivers expect more relief or a return to that so-called ‘pain at the pump’ in the coming months?
“I don’t have a crystal ball on my desk, but I do have a globe on it, and what matters the most is the state of the global economy,” says Werner Antweiler, Sauder School of Business professor at the University of BC
“Motorists need to be prepared for a significant level of volatility,” he told Glacier Media.
What drove prices to their peak this year was the war in Ukraine and disrupted supply chains, said Antweiler.
What’s driving prices down, said Antweiler, is curtailing demand due to inflating household costs and increased crude outputs and lower crude prices.
Antweiler said BC gas prices are “well integrated” with global factors.
Ultimately, few local factors impact gas prices in BC, he said, although he noted taxes and extended supply chain, say compared to Alberta, are marginal factors.
Antweiler said more sanctions against Russia could deepen the supply crunch.
The US Energy Information Administration is forecasting lower, but still elevated, prices for 2023: “US regular gasoline retail prices averaged $4.11 per gallon (gal) in the first half of 2022… We forecast gasoline prices will average $4.05/gal in 2022 and $3.57 /gal in 2023,” stated its short-term energy outlook report July 12.
“Inventory builds in 2022 generally put downward pressure on crude oil prices. However, we expect prices to stay elevated as inventories remain below their recent five-year average for most of the forecast, which will likely keep crude oil prices volatile. The Brent price averages $104/b in 2022 and $94/b in 2023 in our forecast.”