Canadians fuelling up last week had some major sticker shock — and it appears things won’t be getting better for a few weeks.
Gas prices skyrocketed across North America last week in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, which disrupted oil refineries and pipelines on the Gulf Coast. Some of the biggest pipelines shut down or reduced operations because of fuel shortage.
According to Reuters, one-quarter of U.S. refining capacity was shuttered due to the storm.
Some oil refineries were back in business by Tuesday, but there were little signs of recovery either side of the border.
Werner Antweiler, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia, says it usually takes some time for effects to work through the supply chain, but things will get better soon.
“It might be another couple of weeks until we feel the effects of Harvey vanishing,” he said.
“I fully expect the effect to take another two to three weeks.”
The national average gas price in Canada as of Tuesday afternoon was $1.22 per litre, according to GasBuddy. Provincially, Ontarians were paying the most at the pump at an average of $1.251 per litre, followed by $1.249 per litre in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The national average gas price in August was $1.08 per litre.
The lowest prices in the country, as of Tuesday, were in Saskatchewan ($1.073) and Alberta ($1.074).
The average gasoline price in the U.S. was $2.648 per gallon — 30.2 cents higher than a month ago, according to motorist advocacy group AAA.
Antweiler says the prices will also decrease as driving season winds down through September, with there being a very notable difference by October.
Dan McTeague, the senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy, said in a press release this week’s high prices are set to remain until there’s a clearer idea about how much Harvey damaged oil refineries. And the damage caused by the incoming Hurricane Irma could perpetuate the situation.
While there are several oil refineries along the Atlantic coast in Irma’s possible path, Antweiler says prices likely won’t jump in Canada as they did with Harvey.
“They’re not quite as important to oil prices in Canada,” he said, explaining Canada’s pipelines are more interconnected with Texas and Louisiana.