Ed Wiebe

at the UVic Climate Lab

Gasoline (Gas) Prices in Parts of Canada between 1998 and 2014

The data on this page were collected on the dates shown by taking note of the information presented on the pump when gasoline (gas) was being purchased. Most of the gas was bought in western Canada, specifically Victoria, British Columbia. Some of it was bought on (nearly) cross-country trips as far east as Toronto. The red line on the plot below is a simple linear best fit to the data. The dates of the longer trips are obvious on the plot. They are identified by the dense red regions along the line.

I've been experimenting with correcting the data for inflation. The green line on the plot shows the cost corrected to the value of the dollar in June of 2002 using the Consumer Price Index from the Bank of Canada.

This data was collected by me. There are bound to be confounding factors tied up in these data. For example, BC introduced an (excellent) escalating (no longer, see story) carbon tax on gasoline (gas, among other things) in July 2008. Local government (Greater Victoria, Capital Regional District, CRD) has additional taxes that may have changed at times during this record. Sadly, I had a notebook with our gas purchases from the late nineteen-eighties to the beginning of this record which has been lost!

Gasoline (gas) prices plotted as a function of time between 1998 and 2004 - the fuel was mostly purchased in Victoria, BC but some was obtained as far east as Toronto

Here's a long record from victoriagasprices.com

Fuel prices are shown in red. The green curve is the fuel price corrected for inflation. The red line is the best linear fit to the red curve. The dark green line is the best fit to the green curve. The slopes of the lines, giving the average rate of change (increase) of the price of gasoline (gas) over the period of the data, are shown on the plot in corresponding colours.

All of this means that, on average, the price of gasoline (gas) where I have bought it (mostly in Victoria BC) has risen at a rate of 4.8 cents per year in unadjusted, experiential cents. If one factors in the Consumer Price Index as a measure of inflation the the price has risen at a rate of 2.8 cents per year in equivalent, comparable cents.

Gasoline (gas) prices plotted as a function of time between 1998 and 2004 - the fuel was mostly purchased in Victoria, BC but some was obtained as far east as Toronto

The graph showing the trend adjusted price might also be interesting. In this figure I have subtracted the trend from the unadjusted prices. Basically, the trend line now lies along the 0 value of the vertical axis of the figure. Plotting the data in this way helps to see how the price swings above and below the trend line. Especially dramatic is the price rise in the summer of 2008.

News Items

[2014-10-27] Andrew Leach tweets Notice to all the "oil always goes up" crowd - you can buy oil for delivery in 2020 for a little over $80/bbl.. I honestly don't know quite what to make of this. If I understand it correctly it means that buyers and sellers of oil are right now betting that $80 per barrel will be a good price in six years. That is, most sellers won't be able to earn much more than that if they held on to their oil now, and most buyers believe they won't be able to get a better deal on the spot in 2020. It think.

[2014-10-15] Gas prices at 5-year low and dropping Oil prices sink to $80 a barrel, down 30% since June. My guess is that the price will fall for a while and then slowly rise up to the trend line again.

[2014-07-20] Oil Consumption in United States is rising and it's not clear to me what this will mean for prices. The IEA just released (below) projections showing increasing supply of gasoline in the coming five years.

[2014-07-07] The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that North America will have an oversupply of gasoline by 2019. How this will affect prices is unclear (to me at least). The presentation from the IEA also suggests that demand for gasoline in North America will increase in the next five years. I've cached the report.

[2014-07-07] I'm adding a link to the BC Government page(s) on the Carbon Tax. I've cached their PDF describing the most recent review and policy directions for the tax.

[2014-06-20] Vancouver gasoline price hits record high which is not surprising considering the trend.

[2014-05-21] The Monterey Shale reserves estimate reduced by 96% by the USA Energy Information Administration (EIA). Hmmm, interesting to ponder what the fracking boom really means.

[2014-04-23] My gas price data appeared in the news.

[2014-04-15] Guess what? Gas prices expected to rise in Canada this summer.

[2014-01-09] Peak oil is still coming in spite of shale oil discoveries and fracking.

[2013-06-27] There is some interesting commentary on BC's carbon tax on the Skeptical Science website.

[2013-05-20] More concern about the rapid fluctuations in Vancouver Island gasoline prices.

[2013-04-02] This is interesting. According to the IMF (International Monetary Fund) global subsidies to the fossil fuel industry are really, really large.

[2012-12-31] Here's a nice bit of research showing that the apparent collusion that so many people seem to believe is really happening is actually an emergent property of our system of distributing and selling gasoline (gas).

[2012-09-14] Another news story about gasoline (gas) prices and the general mood. Drivers becoming numb to gas price spikes, experts say.

[2012-03-26] I spotted this today. It covers some interesting points typically brought up by the extrememly noisy fringe of folks who don't think much about what they shout. Gasoline (gas) prices in Canada and USA track each other very closely.

[2014-05-25] More commentary on cross-border shopping. It's not much affected by the BC Carbon Tax.

Opinion section: Humanity is being foolish and stupid

Start with some details such as can be seen at the following links.

What is the evidence of anthropogenic effects CO2 concentration in the atmosphere?

We are really doing on a number on the climate. This is especially true with regard to the rate of change of temperature.

With regard to the issues around carbon fuels, climate change, and humanity here is my perspective; this is all opinion as I don't imagine myself to be an expert on economics or public policy. I do have opinions though!

We (all of humanity) need to stop burning carbon fuels and releasing carbon (CO2, etc.) into the atmosphere. We need to stop doing this sooner rather than later. We need to do this because there is a lot of evidence that the carbon we have been emitting is causing harms that will be expensive to adapt to. Not to mention the actual, physical, harms that will befall many people around the world, especially in places less able to pay for the costs of adaptation. Many studies by real economists have shown it will be cheaper to pay for reduction and mitigation strategies now than adaptation in the future. I myself am not an economist or similar but as far as I can see people will not use less fuel (emit less carbon) if such fuels continue to be relatively inexpensive. So, I am a proponent for (almost?) anything that will raise the price of carbon fuels relative to other sources of energy.

I record the prices I pay at the pump out of interest and because without at least some data I don't have any real information about what's happening. My collection process is informal and the sampling rate is a low frequency so I miss some of the short-term swings in price (but in the long run those don't matter).

I post the prices because I see that people react emotionally, without much thought, to the swings in price and don't see (at all, apparently) the bigger picture. The important point to be taken from these gas price data is that the price is increasing faster than inflation. There is no indication that this will stop and many reasons why it will continue. Short-term swings in price are mostly meaningless. People planning their transportation needs should consider the continued rise in the price of fuel. I hope that by providing some observations of what is really happening people can have some information to provide a basis for discussion.

It's difficult to imagine it is possible that our government (whatever party might be in power) can do anything to actually lower prices. After all, the entire reason for tar (oil) sands development and other new development and extraction projects elsewhere around the globe is to make as much money as possible from the resources that are still as available as they are. Prices for carbon fuels are globally driven and since supply is shrinking and it is getting more and more expensive to extract the stuff and since demand is only rising, the price goes up. It's also worth thinking about what the government's role actually is and should be in helping corporate interests make profits.

I really do think it is foolish to continue to invest huge amounts of capital into these kinds of developments. Every dollar invested into more and more difficult to extract carbon fuel reservoirs is a dollar that cannot be invested into something else. By continuing to channel ever increasing fractions of our economic output into something that ultimately is just not sustainable we waste opportunities in the present to make things better in the future. Remember that at some time (we know that supplies are ultimately limited, finite), perhaps not too far off, it will cost a barrel of oil to get a barrel of oil out of the ground. At that point I think everyone will agree it's absolutely a waste of time and resources to continue the practice. Know that now it is costing a significant fraction of a barrel, something like $40 per barrel at the moment (2012), some tens of percent of the of final selling price, to produce a barrel of synthetic crude from the tar sands. This imbalance gets worse and worse all of the time. Furthermore, this imbalance is generally happening for all new sources of oil since they are all getting more and more difficult to extract. It really is a bad direction for our civilisation to take.

[Edit 2013-05-16 It looks like technology is improving rapidily enough in the short term that new known reserves of carbon fuels like oil and natural gas might be producing in the short term. The problem is that we now know that we must leave most (about two thirds) of current known reserves in the ground if we want to have a chance of keeping global temperature rise below 2 °C. Building new hydrocarbon infrastructure, like pipelines or liquified natural gas terminals, is even more obviously a waste of capital. So there are additional reasons to stop wasting capital on further carbon fuel exploration. We will not be able to, should not, must not use it in any case.]

Finally, there is the now clearly established link between our collective carbon emissions into the atmosphere and global climate change. Every gram of carbon we put into the atmosphere makes it warmer in the future and temperatures will not stabilize unless we stop adding carbon to the system.

End of opinion ... for now.

The data are below. These are uncorrected for inflation.

This is the small print. These data are made freely available as is (are) with no guarantee that they are anything but what I say they are. You may use them for any purpose but please provide a link to this page noting that this is where you found them. It would be nice to let me know what you did with them as well.


Year Month Day      Cents/Litre
===============================
1998   01  17         52.9
1998   02  17         52.5
1998   03  30         47.9
1998   04  26         52.4
1998   05  24         52.4
1998   06  27         52.4
1998   07  19         51.9
1998   07  30         49.9
1998   07  31         55.9
1998   08  02         49.9
1998   08  05         56.9
1998   08  06         54.9
1998   08  06         55.9
1998   08  08         53.9
1998   08  10         59.4
1998   08  10         53.5
1998   08  11         53.9
1998   08  12         49.9
1998   08  16         50.9
1998   08  17         51.9
1998   09  02         55.9
1998   10  03         53.9
1998   10  31         53.7
1998   11  22         53.7
1998   12  20         49.9
1999   01  31         49.9
1999   02  28         49.9
1999   04  01         58.9
1999   04  15         58.6
1999   05  07         58.4
1999   06  07         60.5
1999   07  16         62.9
1999   09  27         64.9
1999   12  05         64.9
1999   12  31         61.9
2000   01  23         64.9
2000   02  11         64.9
2000   03  07         72.9
2000   04  03         71.9
2000   04  04         67.9
2000   04  04         68.9
2000   04  05         66.9
2000   04  06         72.9
2000   04  06         71.9
2000   04  06         69.5
2000   04  07         72.9
2000   04  08         71.9
2000   04  08         75.9
2000   04  08         75.5
2000   04  09         72.9
2000   04  10         65.9
2000   04  11         62.5
2000   04  24         62.7
2000   04  25         67.9
2000   04  26         72.9
2000   04  27         67.3
2000   04  28         74.9
2000   04  30         62.5
2000   05  01         67.9
2000   05  01         61.9
2000   05  02         62.9
2000   05  03         67.9
2000   07  27         76.9
2000   08  27         76.9
2000   09  29         80.9
2000   11  02         79.9
2000   11  19         79.9
2000   12  21         75.9
2001   01  26         73.9
2001   03  02         73.9
2001   04  16         71.9
2001   05  29         82.9
2001   07  06         73.9
2001   07  28         72.9
2001   07  30         67.9
2001   08  02         66.9
2001   08  05         63.9
2001   08  07         67.9
2001   08  11         71.9
2001   09  18         81.9
2001   10  19         73.9
2001   11  17         66.9
2001   12  21         61.9
2002   01  23         63.9
2002   02  21         63.9
2002   03  06         70.9
2002   04  15         75.0
2002   05  25         75.5
2002   05  26         75.5
2002   06  26         75.5
2002   06  27         72.9
2002   06  27         72.9
2002   07  02         69.4
2002   07  04         72.9
2002   07  04         72.9
2002   07  23         77.9
2002   08  30         77.9
2002   10  05         77.5
2002   11  09         77.5
2002   12  13         74.5
2002   12  31         74.5
2003   02  14         84.9
2003   03  09         88.4
2003   04  11         83.5
2003   05  11         79.9
2003   06  13         79.9
2003   07  15         79.9
2003   07  27         79.9
2003   08  26         89.9
2003   09  26         79.9
2003   10  26         76.9
2003   11  08         76.9
2003   12  01         74.5
2003   12  16         74.5
2004   01  06         74.5
2004   01  20         77.5
2004   01  31         79.9
2004   02  21         79.9
2004   03  09         84.9
2004   03  30         84.9
2004   04  18         87.5
2004   05  09         95.9
2004   06  08         98.5
2004   06  28         94.9
2004   07  13         93.9
2004   08  03         93.9
2004   08  29         93.9
2004   09  16         93.9
2004   10  03         93.9
2004   10  23         93.9
2004   11  09         92.5
2004   12  06         87.9
2004   12  18         89.9
2005   01  08         82.9
2005   01  21         82.9
2005   02  03         94.9
2005   02  08         88.9
2005   02  21         88.9
2005   03  04         92.9
2005   03  16         92.9
2005   04  05         96.9
2005   04  17        102.9
2005   05  03        107.9
2005   05  15        100.9
2005   05  29         96.9
2005   06  08         96.9
2005   06  19         99.9
2005   07  02        105.9
2005   07  09         86.4
2005   07  24         99.9
2005   08  08        104.9
2005   08  16        108.9
2005   09  02        117.9
2005   09  17        114.9
2005   09  30        114.9
2005   10  04        113.9
2005   10  21        106.9
2005   11  01        100.9
2005   11  16         96.9
2005   11  26         94.9
2005   12  09         91.9
2005   12  27         91.9
2006   01  12        102.9
2006   01  21         96.9
2006   02  04         93.9
2006   02  17         93.9
2006   02  24         93.9
2006   03  08         97.9
2006   03  19        101.9
2006   03  28        106.9
2006   04  10        110.9
2006   04  22        115.9
2006   05  09        119.9
2006   05  25        119.9
2006   06  07        119.9
2006   06  27        114.9
2006   07  07        115.9
2006   07  15        115.1
2006   07  21        115.1
2006   08  03        119.9
2006   08  19        117.9
2006   09  02        103.9
2006   09  14        101.9
2006   09  28         99.9
2006   10  11         99.9
2006   10  25         99.9
2006   11  05         97.9
2006   11  18         99.9
2006   12  02         99.9
2006   12  14        103.9
2006   12  27        106.9
2007   01  11        104.9
2007   01  23         98.9
2007   02  03         95.9
2007   02  15         99.9
2007   03  03        102.9
2007   03  17        110.5
2007   04  06        114.5
2007   04  21        118.5
2007   05  24        122.5
2007   06  07        116.5
2007   06  19        111.5
2007   06  30        111.5
2007   07  04        105.9
2007   07  05        110.0
2007   07  06        113.9
2007   07  07        100.9
2007   07  08        113.9
2007   07  08        110.9
2007   07  11        114.4
2007   07  12        114.9
2007   07  13        121.9
2007   07  13        106.9
2007   07  15        106.5
2007   07  17        106.4
2007   07  19         98.0
2007   07  21         99.2
2007   07  24         97.1
2007   07  25         94.4
2007   07  27        108.7
2007   07  27        106.9
2007   07  28        105.5
2007   07  28        116.9
2007   07  29        110.9
2007   07  29        113.9
2007   07  30        111.9
2007   07  30        105.9
2007   07  31        109.4
2007   07  31         99.4
2007   08  08        108.9
2007   08  24        105.9
2007   09  07        109.9
2007   09  16        109.9
2007   09  26        106.9
2007   10  06        102.9
2007   10  17        101.9
2007   10  25        100.9     
2007   11  02        105.9
2007   11  12        105.9
2007   11  21        109.9
2007   11  25        109.9
2007   12  04        109.9
2007   12  13        107.9
2007   12  21        107.9
2008   01  07        109.9
2008   01  15        109.9
2008   01  24        107.9
2008   02  03        107.9
2008   02  11        107.9
2008   02  22        113.9
2008   02  25        110.4
2008   03  01        113.9
2008   03  09        113.9
2008   03  19        117.9
2008   03  28        121.4
2008   04  06        121.4
2008   04  15        121.4
2008   04  23        124.9
2008   05  02        129.9
2008   05  14        136.9
2008   05  25        136.9
2008   06  02        136.9
2008   06  07        139.9
2008   06  13        136.4
2008   06  22        146.9  
2008   06  27        146.9
2008   07  08        144.9
2008   07  18        148.9
2008   07  27        142.9
2008   08  03        142.9
2008   08  13        142.9
2008   08  20        142.9
2008   08  31        142.9
2008   09  09        138.9
2008   09  18        134.9
2008   10  01        129.9
2008   10  09        121.9
2008   10  17        118.9
2008   10  29        110.9
2008   11  05        104.9
2008   11  14         97.9
2008   11  24         92.9
2008   12  02         85.4
2008   12  08         86.9
2008   12  18         81.9
2008   12  24         81.9
2009   01  09         89.9
2009   01  17         94.9
2009   01  28         94.9
2009   02  04         92.9
2009   02  12         99.9
2009   02  25         93.9
2009   03  04         93.9
2009   03  12         99.9
2009   03  16         93.9
2009   03  23         98.9
2009   04  01         96.9
2009   04  04         96.9
2009   04  11         96.9
2009   04  18         99.9
2009   04  25         98.9
2009   05  05        102.9
2009   05  17        102.9
2009   05  26        107.9
2009   05  31        107.9
2009   06  02        107.9
2009   06  18        106.9
2009   06  25        106.9
2009   06  26        106.9
2009   07  11        108.9
2009   07  21         98.9
2009   07  29        101.9
2009   08  03        102.9
2009   08  29        107.9
2009   09  04        105.5
2009   09  15        109.9
2009   09  16        109.5
2009   10  01        102.9
2009   10  16         97.9
2009   10  27        106.9
2009   11  07        105.9
2009   11  21        104.9
2009   11  29         99.9
2009   11  30        104.9
2009   12  01        104.9
2009   12  09        104.9
2009   12  16        102.9
2009   12  22        102.9
2010   01  03        105.5
2010   01  14        103.9
2010   01  25         97.9
2010   02  02         97.9
2010   02  15        102.9
2010   03  05        102.9
2010   03  20        107.9
2010   03  31        107.9
2010   03  31        107.9
2010   04  09        105.9
2010   04  24        105.9
2010   05  07        105.9
2010   05  07        105.9
2010   05  11        105.9
2010   05  26        110.9
2010   06  12        110.9
2010   06  20        110.9
2010   06  22        109.9
2010   06  30        110.9
2010   07  05        112.0
2010   07  07        112.0
2010   07  18        112.0
2010   07  30        112.0
2010   08  14        112.0
2010   08  29        112.0
2010   09  10        112.0
2010   09  26        109.9
2010   10  04        109.9
2010   10  10        109.9
2010   10  13        109.9
2010   11  01        114.9
2010   11  04        114.9
2010   11  19        112.9
2010   11  30        112.9
2010   11  30        112.9
2010   12  01        110.9
2010   12  13        112.9
2010   12  15        112.9
2010   12  26        112.9
2011   01  15        112.9
2011   02  24        123.9
2011   03  01        122.9
2011   03  07        123.9
2011   03  08        121.9
2011   03  08        123.9
2011   03  26        128.9
2011   04  03        128.9
2011   04  13        128.9
2011   04  22        131.9
2011   05  04        131.9
2011   05  11        137.9
2011   05  22        131.9
2011   06  10        129.9
2011   06  13        125.9
2011   06  14        123.9
2011   06  23        124.9
2011   06  27        116.9
2011   06  28        125.9
2011   07  03        122.9
2011   07  04        119.9
2011   07  16        116.9
2011   07  26        113.9
2011   08  10        116.9
2011   08  13        113.9
2011   08  27        125.9
2011   09  09        134.9
2011   10  01        126.9
2011   10  15        118.9
2011   10  20        128.9
2011   11  15        123.9
2011   12  03        105.9
2011   12  14        101.9
2011   12  19        111.9
2011   12  29        120.9
2012   01  19        122.9
2012   02  01        120.9
2012   02  15        118.9
2012   02  29        134.9
2012   03  14        132.9
2012   03  30        128.9
2012   04  12        130.9 
2012   04  18        134.9
2012   05  05        133.9
2012   05  16        131.9
2012   05  18        134.9
2012   06  03        139.9
2012   06  16        139.9
2012   07  07        120.9 
2012   07  19        126.9
2012   07  28        125.9
2012   08  14        125.5
2012   09  01        124.9
2012   09  12        127.9
2012   09  13        125.9
2012   10  02        120.9
2012   10  12        129.9
2012   10  30        114.9
2012   12  03        113.9
2013   01  13        115.9
2013   01  25        115.9
2013   02  02        117.9
2013   02  13        123.9
2013   02  28        120.9
2013   03  16        119.9
2013   04  03        129.9
2013   04  09        129.9
2013   04  17        122.9
2013   05  15        135.9
2013   05  22        139.9
2013   05  30        127.9
2013   06  05        131.9
2013   06  07        135.9
2013   06  10        135.9
2013   06  12        132.9
2013   06  16        135.9
2013   07  05        135.9
2013   07  16        141.9
2013   08  02        141.9
2013   08  16        135.9
2013   09  01        135.9
2013   09  11        132.9
2013   09  25        130.9
2013   09  26        128.9
2013   10  09        124.9
2013   10  26        121.9
2013   11  16        117.9
2013   11  27        117.9
2013   12  15        115.9
2013   12  29        127.9
2014   01  10        115.9
2014   01  28        118.9
2014   02  02        118.9
2014   02  25        124.9
2014   03  22        129.9
2014   03  27        133.9
2014   04  08        129.6
2014   04  18        142.9
2014   05  03        141.9
2014   05  13        138.9
2014   05  28        138.9
2014   06  04        137.9
2014   06  07        138.8
2014   06  11        137.9
2014   06  16        138.8
2014   07  03        138.8
2014   08  07        130.9
2014   08  25        130.9
2014   10  08        123.9
2014   10  19        113.9

Date is year, month, day.  The price is listed in cents (unadjusted).
Most of the fuel was purchased in Victoria.
Some was purchased as far east as Toronto.

This is the small print. These data are made freely available as is (are) with no guarantee that they are anything but what I say they are. You may use them for any purpose but please provide a link to this page noting that this is where you found them. It would be nice to let me know what you did with them as well.

Keywords:

gas, gasoline, petrol, price, cost, canada, british columbia, bc, victoria, vancouver island, carbon, carbon tax, climate, climate change, canada gas price, record, history, data

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