A boost in gas prices to the tune of 14 per cent in 2013 despite stable per-barrel crude oil prices has the Quebec arm of the Canadian Automobile Association crying foul.
Philippe St-Pierre of CAA-Quebec said that Quebecers should have seen better prices at the pump last year considering the cost of crude oil remained more or less the same.
Instead, gas stations tacked on an average six cents per litre last year.
Saint-Pierre says gas stations could afford to the cut their prices a bit and still turn a profit, particularly those in cities.
“A region like Lanaudière, or Centre-du-Québec, or Mauricie, the retail margin is lower than in Montreal. So what’s going on in the market? We don’t know,” St-Pierre said.
However, Quebec Association of Independent Petroleum Marketers CEO Sonia Marcotte said price wars between gas stations can often reduce profits to zero over the course of a year.
For example, tanking up in the Mauricie region means paying around 2.7 cents more on every litre. In northern Quebec, that markup is 17 cents per litre.
In 2013, the average price of a litre of gas in Quebec City was approximately $1.35, while it was at $1.37 in Montreal.
In the Quebec City region, the arrival of Costco and its gas pumps caused prices to drop across the board in gas stations’ efforts to remain competitive.
“If there’s some good news, a glimmer of hope, it’s the arrival of an independent player in the sale of gas. This business sells it for four cents less per litre than other retailers in the Quebec City region,” St-Pierre said.