Gasoline prices at the pumps soared in parts of Ontario and Quebec early Tuesday, even as the price of crude oil was little changed.

Motorists were paying 6.5 cents a litre more in southern and eastern Ontario, the website tomorrowsgaspricetoday.com reported.

A litre of regular gas in the Toronto area cost $1.396 early Tuesday, compared with 96.3 cents a year ago. 

Dwight Archer was the only person filling up at a pump on Wellington Street West and Spadina Avenue at 6:30 a.m. He drives into the city from Milton to work a night shift at a downtown hotel.

"It hurts," he said. "It honestly hurts, it's painful, but like I said, what am I going to do? If I don't fill up, I don't drive to Toronto and I don't make money to feed my family. So it's something I have to do."

While the price of crude oil was little changed, there was speculation that flooding along the Mississippi River could slow gasoline deliveries and possibly disrupt production, Bloomberg News reported.

Money-saving tips

The Canadian Automobile Association offers these tips for drivers on how to use less fuel and save money:

  • Avoid jackrabbit starts and hard braking: it can burn as much as 39 per cent more fuel.
  • Slow down — even a little. Tests have shown that most cars use about 20 per cent less fuel driving at 90 km/h than at 110 km/h.
  • Avoid idling. Remember, the worst fuel economy rating is zero, and that’s what your fuel economy is while you’re idling.
  • Consider a smaller engine. In a mid-sized car, a six-cylinder engine can burn up to 400 litres more fuel a year than a four-cylinder engine.
  • Avoid using roof racks when not required. They have a major impact on fuel consumption due to the air resistance they add to your vehicle
  • Avoid excessive weight in your vehicle. Every 45 kilograms of extra weight can increase your fuel consumption two per cent. If you have unneeded cargo in your trunk, remove it.

Source: Canadian Automobile Association

Gasoline futures rose as much as 3.1 per cent as the flooding threatened U.S. refineries. There are 11 plants along the river in Louisiana between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Bloomberg said, citing Lipow Oil Associates LLC in Houston.

Gas price guru and former member of Parliament Dan McTeague told CBC News that marketplace speculation is to blame for the price jump at the pump. He also blamed refineries in eastern North America, saying they had boosted their profits significantly.

He said the current Toronto price isn’t justified, as it’s about eight cents a litre above the international price of gas.

Prices have been higher, however. In September 2008, Hurricane Ike's toll on North American refining drove them to more than $1.42 a litre on average across Canada.

In Montreal on Tuesday, gas was reported to be selling for $1.449, an increase of five cents a litre, while in Ottawa it rose 5.1 cents to $1.329 a litre.

In Vancouver, a litre of gas rose 4.6 cents to $1.44.1.

In Winnipeg, however, there was no change overnight, with a litre of regular gas selling for about $1.23. Nor did the price move in Calgary, where a litre sold for $1.219. 

In Halifax, gas was selling for $1.369 a litre, while In Newfoundland and Labrador, gas was trading at 1.40.7 a litre on Tuesday morning. Gas prices are regulated in the province, though they vary slightly by region to allow for delivery costs. They are to be set Thursday.

Crude oil for June delivery was trading at $101.77 US a barrel Tuesday morning on the New York Mercantile Exchange, little changed from the previous day's close.

On Monday, oil fell as much as 2.4 per cent on the Nymex, after the exchange increased the costs of trading oil futures and on speculation that U.S. oil stockpiles will be shown later this week to have increased.

However, Bloomberg News also reported that U.S. gasoline stockpiles declined.