People living and working in the city are stupefied by the energy crisis in Canada as consumers are feeling the pinch of higher gas prices. Many are frustrated and feel a measure of disbelief that an oil-producing province such as Alberta has high pump prices.
Pump prices in St. Albert jumped more than 10 cents on Tuesday, Oct. 5. The retail price on Monday, Oct. 11 across the city was $141.9 a litre of gas. The exception was Costco, which charges $129.9 to its member card holders.
“It’s crazy,” said Jimmy Akiki, a St. Albert resident who works in northeast Edmonton. A mechanic by trade, Akiki was accustomed to filling his GMC Sierra truck with a full tank of gas for $80. Paying current pump prices, he fills half a tank at $73.
“I think it’s a game. I think the government is stealing money,” Akiki said.
There is no doubt the federal government has dipped into Canadians’ pockets with a carbon tax that will only increase in the future. However, external forces outside the country are also dictating the price point.
The New York Times wrote that oil prices jumped to their highest level in seven years. Globally, nations are rebounding from the pandemic’s dip in energy demand. High energy demand from countries such as India, China, Europe, and North America are contributing major pressures in the oil-exporting market.
The pace of economic activity worldwide has created a supercharged demand for fuel. In contrast, the dive in oil output during COVID-19 due to cutbacks from producing nations has not rebounded, and pressures on governments to transition to cleaner energy has helped keep prices high.
In July, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies signed an agreement to increase production a modest 400,000 barrels per day. On Oct. 4 the cartel met once more, but voted against loosening the taps. Despite global demand, it will keep to its initial negotiated target.
The price of barrel of crude oil ranged from $80 to $84 on Thanksgiving Monday. And analysts are predicting there may be more jumps before Christmas.
Edward Moya, an analyst at Oanda, a currency converter and foreign exchange, said crude prices could still increase.
“The oil market is still heavily in deficit and that will likely be the story over the winter. If the north has a cold winter, the prospects of $90 oil seem very likely,” said Moya.
Those words are cold comfort to Bryce Hughes, a Paul Kane High gym teacher who drives a Ford Ranger truck. He lives in northeast Edmonton in the Manning area and commutes 150 kilometres each week during the school year.
“It’s catastrophic. The jump in price is insane. It has a notable impact. I used to spend $150 a week. Now I’m spending $250. Look at the cost of everything. Groceries have already gone up. Christmas is coming and will you be able to buy the gifts you want to give people you love? Is this the new reality?” asked Hughes.
He recognizes Canada has entered an inflationary period, and with cold winter months approaching quickly, the cost of utilities will also spike. A lifestyle change has crossed his mind.
“Is my commute sustainable? Will I have to move to St. Albert to avoid the cost of gas?” is one of the big questions he has asked himself.
Trucker Lucie Belanger works for Sturgeon County’s Darwin Dispatch, a delivery service across Western Canada. She’s off to Regina delivering a product and filled up a RAM 5500 200-litre tank with diesel fuel. The going pump price is $136.9.
“There’s no need to get too excited. [Oil companies] always raise the price of gas on a long weekend,” said Belanger.
Now an employee, Belanger used to be a truck owner-operator and recognizes the headaches businesses undergo when gas prices spike. Long hauls, in particular, are expensive, and when the price of gas jumps, it takes a big chunk from the profit margin.
“It’s trying to get enough work to keep drivers going. In this business there’s lots of out-of-town trips and fuel prices are different all over the place. And if it’s a long trip you need an oil change ‘cause it gets dirty. When you stay overnight the owner pays for hotel and food, too,” she said.
Belanger’s solution is to follow Gas Buddy, and when a gas station posts a drop in price, she texts a group of truckers that support each other.
“I don’t stress, but I do what I can to help the owner out.”