Bruce Ralston, B.C. minister of jobs, trade and technology, speaks in the B.C. legislature. (Hansard TV)

B.C. pushes for greater industry ‘transparency’ in gasoline pricing

Legislation responds to fuel price gap of up to 13 cents

The B.C. government is moving ahead with legislation to require gasoline producers to disclose more information about their fuel pricing.

Jobs, Trade and Technology Minister Bruce Ralston introduced the “Fuel Price Transparency Act” after an independent investigation this summer could find no explanation for a price gap of between 10 and 13 cents per litre on gasoline sold in B.C.

Speaking to reporters Monday, Ralston stopped short of calling for government regulation of retail fuel pricing, saying he will wait for additional information once the new legislation is passed.

The B.C. Utilities Commission issued a follow-up report last week, after taking more submissions from gasoline processors that supply B.C. from refineries in Burnaby and Prince George, as well as major producers that refine gasoline and diesel in the U.S. and Alberta.

The BCUC was again unable to explain the price gap, under a mandate that prevented it from examining taxation or environmental regulations such as B.C.’s low-carbon fuel standard that mandates use of ethanol in gasoline.

Ralston wasted no time pointing fingers as he introduced the legislation Monday.

“The BCUC found that there are considerable markups on the price of gasoline, including a 10-to-13 cent per litre premium being charged to drivers that the industry refused to explain,” Ralston said.

“This premium results in British Columbians paying an extra $490 million each year. This legislation brings us greater transparency at the gas pumps and sends a message to the oil and gas companies: the days of setting your prices in secrecy are coming to an end.”

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BCUC chair David Morton said when the first report was issued in September that the small number of producers serving B.C. means the market is not as competitive as it could be. Morton added: “There is no evidence to suggest collusion among the retail operators exists, nor is there evidence of cartel behaviour.”


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