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Propane customers lament fuel's cost in Thunder Bay

Propane users are joining drivers in Thunder Bay complaining about the cost of gasoline.
Shortly after buying his 1994 Ford F150, Thunder Bay's Glenn Treml converted it to run on propane. (Adam Burns/CBC)

Propane users are joining drivers in Thunder Bay complaining about the cost of gasoline.

A propane distributor says prices are a matter of supply and demand, but that's not good enough for Glenn Treml, whose 1994 Ford pick-up truck runs on propane.

 "The idea was to save some money, because it's a little bit cheaper than gasoline,” he said.

“But in parts of the province, the savings are greater than others.”

The latest report from the federal government show Thunder Bay has some of the highest prices for auto propane in the province and is currently 18 cents a litre more than in Toronto.

The president of Superior Propane said the discrepancies are due to shipping costs.

Greg McCamus, president of Superior Propane, one of the Thunder Bay's main distributors of propane, says the price is mostly beyond his company's control. (Supplied)

"So in the case of Thunder Bay, it does cost us a bit more to get that product into the local tanks, versus what it would in some other parts of the country,” Greg McCamus said.

McCamus said prices are up everywhere due to a cold winter and a healthy export market for propane. He said he expects prices to "moderate" when the weather does.

"I don't have a crystal ball, I can't predict what the worldwide market's going to do, but I do feel that this is an unusual situation and that it will moderate as we get through the cold weather. And I certainly can appreciate and relate to people that are having challenges and are surprised by the price."

'It's a necessity'

The price of propane is mostly beyond his company's control, McCamus added.

"Superior does not refine or manufacture the propane, we buy it from the big producers,” he said.

“It's a worldwide market. So if there's a supply-demand imbalance, it has a significant impact on pricing. Our landed cost is based on what we pay for the propane from the producer and then what it costs us to ship. So in the case of Thunder Bay, it does cost us a bit more to get that product into the local tanks, versus what it would in some other parts of the country."

The additional cost is an additional hardship for Treml.

“It means I have to give up some things in order to be able to pay for the essentials, which is to be able to pay for the fuel,” he said.

“Without fuel, I can't go to the doctor. I can't pick up groceries. So it's a necessity."

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