Gas prices take 8-cent leap at N.L. pumps

Motorists in Newfoundland and Labrador awoke on Thursday to face the third increase in regulated gasoline prices in the past month.

Motorists in Newfoundland and Labrador awoke on Thursday to face the third increase in regulated gasoline prices in the past month.

Prices for all grades of gasoline increased by 7.7 cents or 7.8 cents per litre, depending on rounding for taxes in different pricing zones in Newfoundland and Labrador.

"It's upsetting," said Michelle Phillips, a mother and a university student who says she has no choice but to buy gas regularly.

"Even though the university is close, I have to bring the kids to day care, bring myself to school, pick them up from school because the day care doesn't provide transportation.… So it's a lot of running around. It gets very expensive having to do it," Phillips said Wednesday.

The Petroleum Pricing Office of the province's Public Utilities Board— which sets prices every two weeks— used its interruption formula Thursday to raise prices, reflecting recent increases in the price of oil.

The decision pushed the maximum price of a litre of self-serve unleaded gasoline on the Avalon Peninsula, where prices in the province are cheapest, to $1.1134.

As always, prices vary around the province, including a setting of $1.187 in Labrador West and $1.143 in the Deer Lake-Corner Brook area.

Prices have jumped about 16 cents over the past month.

George Murphy, a St. John's researcher with the Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices, said consumers bear some responsibility across North America for higher fuel prices, as consumption has been rising.

"We're pigs behind the wheel, plain and simple," said Murphy, who added energy companies themselves have been pocketingrecord profits.

Consumer Marie Squires said the volatility in prices has become grating.

"It only went up last week and now to go up so much in such a short period of time… [I] think it's ridiculous," she said.

Diesel, home-heating oil unchanged

Taxi driver Leo Stamp said consumers ought to make a stand.

"If you parked every vehicle from St. John's to Victoria, B.C., for three days— I mean park them [and] nothing moves— Ottawa and the oil companies will smarten up," Stamp said.

No changes were made Thursday to other fuel products, including diesel and home-heating oil.

The PPO noted declining fuel inventories and rising consumer demand in its notes accompanying the new gas price settings.

The price of gas is now at the level seen during last summer and is about 14 cents higher than comparable prices posted a year ago.

"Once the traditional peak demand driving season arrives in approximately two months, the future direction of prices remains uncertain because of the numerous factors currently contributing to unsettled conditions in the marketplace, seemingly on a weekly basis," the PPO said in a statement.