The Government of Canada’s Competition Bureau website indicates most gas stations post their prices on large signs, with competing stations usually offering gasoline at similar or identical prices. (Lachlan Labere/Salmon Arm Observer)

Rationale for Shuswap gas prices varies

No explanation given for why fuel prices are higher in Salmon Arm than surrounding communities

As always, vehicle fuel costs remain a bone of contention for many Salmon Arm residents. But getting information on who sets the prices, when and how, is not easy to access.

At 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 9, the price per litre in Salmon Arm was anywhere from 120.9 to 121.9 and, in Sicamous, drivers could fill up at 121.9 at four of the five stations listed on GasBuddy and 124.9 at the fifth retailer.

The Petro-Can in Sorrento was selling gasoline at 117.9, Balmoral was 119.9 and Tappen Esso was 1.10.

In Kamloops, prices on Jan. 9 ranged from 106.9 to 108.9, while the rate in Kelowna ranged from 114.9 to as high as 117.9.

Jason Parent of London, Ontario-based Kent Group Ltd. that provides consulting and performance data analysis in the petroleum industry, says his company is well-aware of gas prices in Salmon Arm as his company tracks volumes of fuel sold across the country.

He would not reveal Salmon Arm volumes but says stations in smaller communities often charge more for gas because they have fewer customers but the same expenses as stations in larger communities.

“Big cities sell anywhere from five to eight million litres in a year while, in small communities, it’s more like two to four million litres,” Parent said. “They need to pay off expenses so they have to generate the same revenue.”

Agreeing his explanation on sales volumes is generalized, he added that in terms of specific retailers, “some are more aggressive.”

Related: Salmon Arm, Sicamous tally top gas prices in area

An employee at one of the Shell stations in Salmon Arm said individual retailers do not set prices and there was no response from the company’s Calgary head office by press deadline.

Some gas retailers may be able to lower their fuel prices because they are making “a fair bit of revenue” from other offerings such as groceries or liquor that effectively supplement their revenues, says Parent.

A call to Suncor, a Calgary supplier of gasoline, resulted in an email suggesting, “Your story would benefit from comment from the Canadian Fuels Association as they’ll be able to provide an industry wide perspective on pricing.”

“It’s very much a local market dynamic and, unfortunately, not one that we’d be able to comment on or have any specific knowledge about,” reads a Jan. 8 email from the fuel association, noting the retail gasoline market is closely monitored by the Government of Canada’s Competition Bureau.

“One of the reasons why retailers don’t discuss gas pricing is because this can be seen as anti-competitive conduct.”

For its part, the Competition Bureau website indicates most gas stations post their prices on large signs, with competing stations usually offering gasoline at similar or identical prices.

Related: Okanagan Shuswap gas prices jump

An employee at one station in Salmon Arm seemingly confirms this, saying employees keep an eye on local prices and call the district manager for direction when prices at other stations change.

“Charging the same price is not illegal unless competing gas stations reach an agreement to do so,” notes the Competition Bureau website.

“The fact that prices for gasoline can change quickly is generally an indication that competition is working.”


@SalmonArm
newsroom@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

North Okanagan-Shuswap MP tables bill on RCMP Day in Canada

Mel Arnold throws support behind Vernon-based campaign for national initiative recognizing RCMP

Ways to get money back suggested in wake of Waterway Houseboats shutdown

Shuswap Tourism and Consumer Protection BC weigh in on options for reimbursement

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: rain expected

Showers are expected to end by tomorrow

Shuswap author tells First Nations family’s story of resilience, leadership

Chase resident will hold book signing in Salmon Arm June 22, in Kelowna June 23 and Vernon June 29.

Sicamous welcomes new doctor

Dr. Carol Connick opened her practice on June 18

Snow falls on Okanagan resort, in June

SilverStar gets snow day before summer season starts

Licence issue delays boozing while cruising on BC Ferries

Planned June launch for alcohol sales delayed

B.C. school mourns after 13-year-old killed by fallen tree on field trip

Teenager died after being struck and pinned by tree while on a field trip near Sooke

Column: MLA says forest industry in crisis, government must act

From the Legislature/Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo

Civil suit brought against Kelowna RCMP officer after ‘abhorrent’ interrogation

The woman involved in the 2012 interrogation is suing the officer and B.C.’s Minister of Justice

Penticton family honours loved one with acts of kindness, free coffee

The family of Kathy Castle want to ensure she is remembered by the community

B.C. temporarily halts resource development to protect caribou

The caribou population in northeastern B.C. has dwindled over the last two decades

BC Lung Association’s Golf Savings Book funds lung disease research

The book features more than 90 courses across B.C. and Washington state

Most Read