BC Utilities Commission Gas Price Investigation Results, Fallout – Industry NOT Competitive

Victoria – With another long weekend, comes another spike in gas prices.

Coincidence?

The British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) issued its Final Report with responses to questions posed by the Provincial Government and its key findings from its Inquiry into Gasoline and Diesel Prices in BC.

The BCUC established an independent, transparent and public inquiry process where the Panel considered evidence filed by11 registered interveners including all major companies that have refining and retail business in BC.

Some of the Panel’s key findings include

•There is a significant unexplained difference of approximately 13 cents per litre in wholesale gasoline prices between Southern BC and its Pacific Northwest cost comparator;

•The wholesale market for gasoline in BC is not truly competitive with high market concentration levels, high barriers to entry, and their ability to influence prices. Retail market prices can also be controlled by five refiner-marketers;

•There is no evidence to suggest that there is collusion among the retail operators nor is there evidence of cartel behaviour; and

•Regulation could potentially reduce the wholesale and/or retail margins to what is earned in comparable jurisdictions and reduce price volatility. However, further investigation should be done to determine if such an approach would be of benefit to British Columbian consumers.

The Panel has recommended a one-month comment period on the Report to provide the Inquiry’s participants with an opportunity to submit additional evidence relevant to questions posed by the BC Government

On Friday, Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology, issued a statement on the BC Utilities Commission’s investigation into gas prices:

“People feel like they’re being ripped off when they fill up at the gas station. And they’re right.

“Today, the BC Utilities Commission found that the wholesale gasoline market is not truly competitive, which results in unexplained higher gas prices for consumers, and potentially higher profits for oil and gas companies.

“This means that British Columbians pay $490 million a year more than they otherwise would.

“I want to thank the BC Utilities Commission and the experts who participated in this investigation for their hard work and professional conduct.

“Our government is concerned with the allocation of refined gasoline flowing into B.C., as well as the lack of transparency around how the price of gas is set.

“We are committed to bringing fairness and transparency to B.C.”

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