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Vancouver gas prices rank among North America’s highest

A motorist removes a gas pump nozzle after fuelling up at a gas station in Vancouver in this 2008 file photo.

DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS

A "perfect storm" of factors including a taxed Trans Mountain pipeline have saddled Metro Vancouver with gasoline prices at $1.50, among the highest prices in North America, according to analysts.

"It's pretty much an outlier in the Canadian market," Jason Parent, vice-president of the Kent Group, a downstream petroleum consulting company, said of the Vancouver region.

"Compared to the U.S. market, it's an outlier."

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The Kent Group's daily pump price survey pegged Vancouver at $1.50, with Victoria running behind at $1.41. By comparison, the price was running at $1.24 for Toronto.

The findings echoed those of GasBuddy.com, a Boston-based company that monitors gas prices across North America through an app that allows people to report prices.

From London, Ont., Mr. Parent said the Vancouver region has been hit by the impact of factors that include demand for the Trans Mountain pipeline between Alberta and the Lower Mainland.

Plans to expand that pipeline have fuelled political tensions between the Alberta and B.C. governments, as well as protests over the environment risks of such a project.

But Mr. Parent also said relevant factors include a weak Canadian dollar that has driven up wholesale gasoline prices across Canada, and increasing prices as refineries start to prepare for the summer-driving season.

"It's a perfect storm of factors," he said.

Dan McTeague, a senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com, said they are seeing about $1.50 at most pumps in the Vancouver area.

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From Toronto, he said it's clear the price situation is causing some alarm.

"The $1.50 mark has been the proverbial rubicon. When you cross that number, it triggers a psychological response. People are quite upset," Mr. McTeague, a former Liberal MP, said from Toronto. He blamed the situation on a supply shortage.

He said another issue affecting gasoline prices is continuing renovations at the Parkland Refinery in Burnaby that are affecting the supply of gasoline and forcing a search for supplies from three refineries in the United States.

"That's really pushing prices up to levels one would probably not have assumed would be the case for this time of year," Mr. McTeague said.

Annie Cuerrier, communications director for the Parkland Fuel Corp., said in a statement issued on Wednesday that the refinery is down for planned maintenance.

"As you can understand, we don't talk about gas pricing in any one market, but prices, in general, are driven by market dynamics," she wrote from Calgary.

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Mr. Parent said, in the near term, that he doesn't see any relief coming for Vancouver drivers. "I have no comforting words to provide."

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