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Here’s why you’ll likely see more Canadian cars waiting in line at the gas pump

Drivers wait to fill up with gass at Costco in Bellingham in July 2015. As gasoline prices rise in Vancouver, B.C., more Canadian drivers are likely to head south to fill up at Whatcom County pumps.
Drivers wait to fill up with gass at Costco in Bellingham in July 2015. As gasoline prices rise in Vancouver, B.C., more Canadian drivers are likely to head south to fill up at Whatcom County pumps. The Bellingham Herald

If the lines at the gas pumps in Whatcom County seem a bit longer and filled with even more British Columbian license plates than usual, there’s good reason.

The Vancouver, B.C., area, according to a story posted Monday by globalnews.ca, is seeing a bump in gas prices. According to the story, GasBuddy.com analyst Dan McTeague is predicting prices to reach $1.50 per liter ($5.68 Canadian per gallon) by Wednesday.

“This time (last) Thursday, gas prices were in the high end $1.43 range,” McTeague said. “They went up a penny Friday and then another four cents on Sunday. Some are seeing it this morning. All told, five plus another two cents, that means that we’ll be paying an additional seven cents a liter.”

“This time of the season doesn’t see high demand, and supply is usually very adequate. But (with) $1.52 as an average price here in Metro Vancouver, it looks like that might be exceeded as demand and supply tends to be constrained.”

Whatcom County’s five border crossings saw 903,679 southbound crossings in January, according to Western Washington University’s Border Policy Research Institute – the highest January total since 2015.

According to gasprices.aaa.com, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded in Bellingham is $3.022 – above the Washington state ($2.987) and national ($2.517) averages, but well below what our neighbors north of the border are paying.

According to a news release from GasBuddy.com, the average retail price of gasoline in Washington state has risen a half cent in the past week. The average price of gas in Washington is 20.9 cents per gallon higher than it was a year ago on this date and 3.3 cents higher than it was a month ago. The national average, meanwhile, has decreased 7.3 cents per gallon in the past month, though it’s 22 cents higher than it was last Feb. 26.

But GasBuddy head of petroleum analysis Patrick DeHaan said he expects prices to continue to rise this spring, especially as refineries switch to the more strict fuel regulations of the summer.

“But March typically comes in more like a lamb and goes out like a lion, and I certainly would expect more fireworks at the pump as temperatures begin to warm and gasoline demand begins to perk up,” DeHaan said in the GasBuddy release. “Many places have seen at least the first step towards summer gasoline already made. ... No matter what happens with oil, any curve ball to this work has a tendency to act as a spark in the combustion process – something will likely ignite gas prices, but it's unpredictable when and to what degree.”

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