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Metro Vancouver gas prices dip to lowest point in months

After an overnight price drop, the cost of filling your tank in Metro Vancouver is now the cheapest it’s been since April.

By Saturday morning, the price of a litre of regular gas was 194.9 cents at most stations across the region. Some retailers went as low as 192.9 cents per litre. While that’s still one of the highest prices in the country, Alberta isn’t much cheaper.

The energy-rich province usually has some of the lowest gas prices in Canada, but right now drivers there are paying more than their counterparts in Ontario. The average price per litre in Edmonton and Calgary is hovering around the 180 cent mark.

Vijay Muralidharan, managing director of R Cube Economic Consulting, says the high prices are linked to fuel blending. Gasoline for motor vehicles is required to be blended with ethanol. Canada imports most of its ethanol from the U.S. by rail, but there’s been a shortage of the substance in Canada since April. Limited supply, Muralidharan says, is driving up the price of ethanol and fuel retailers are passing the cost down to consumers.

“That’s creating an anomaly in Western Canada,” he explained. “This problem is in Kamloops, the B.C. Interior, and Alberta because they’re landlocked. They need to bring it by rail.”

Muralidharan says coastal regions of B.C. are not affected because ethanol can be brought in on barges instead of trains.

Meanwhile, some fuel analysts say the higher than usual gas prices in Alberta are an example of price gouging. Dan McTeague, president of Canadians for Affordable Energy points to most gas stations across the continent dropping by up to 33 cents per litre, except for Alberta.

“It is beyond exceptional,” said McTeague. “Its really pressing the limits of what many people might consider, and justifiably call, a fleecing.”

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the province’s finance department will look into the disparity, insisting the government has done everything in its power to keep gas prices low, including a pause on the provincial fuel tax.

Back in B.C., experts predict prices to continue falling, in part because of lower refinery margins.

“Refinery margins were 55 to 65 cents a litre in June, which is an all-time high,” said Muralidharan. “They’ve come down to 35 cents a litre. Expect more decreases if this continues, and it is expected to.”

He predicts Metro Vancouver gas prices will steadily drop into October.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Chelan Skulski

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