Manitoba gas prices hit record level as war in Ukraine puts pressure on global supply

Fuel prices in Manitoba have hit a record this week, with some stations posting prices of more than $1.60 per litre. 

Some stations in Winnipeg post prices of $1.60 per litre or more Thursday

Gas prices in Manitoba broke a record this week, with the average price soaring to 150.2 cents per litre. (Travis Golby/CBC)

Fuel prices in Manitoba have hit a record this week, with some stations posting prices of more than $1.60 per litre. 

That's nearly 20 cents higher than the previous highest recorded average, set in 2008. At that point, the average hit $1.42 per litre, according to GasBuddy data.

The average recorded in Manitoba Thursday was 150.2 cents per litre, though CBC News observed some gas stations with prices as high as 163.9 cents per litre. 

That's not the highest in Canada however, with Vancouver and Montreal seeing average gas prices of $1.85 and $1.69 per litre, respectively, according to the Canadian Taxpayers Association, which is calling on the federal government to provide tax relief immediately. 

The skyrocketing prices are being driven by Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the resulting sanctions from Western nations, which have limited Russia's ability to export crude oil, says Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. 

Russia plays an outsized role in global energy markets as the third-largest oil producer. Its exports of five million barrels per day of crude amount to about 12 per cent of the global oil trade. Some 60 per cent goes to Europe and another 20 per cent to China.

"As a result of the war, then the sanctions, global supply is not able to keep up with demand, and oil prices have surged as a result," De Haan said. 

As the situation in Ukraine continues to unfold, it's unlikely prices are going to drop in the near future, and could possibly rise by another 10 cents per litre or more over the next month, De Haan said. 

"We are at all-time highs across Manitoba, and that's a trend that unfortunately will continue," he said. 

Lower-income families feeling strained 

Though everyone is feeling the pinch, these high fuel prices will impact low-income families disproportionately, says Kate Kehler, executive director of the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg. 

"Some of us are feeling a pinch and then some of us are feeling it's like a gaping wound, because that's what it feels like when you can't meet your most basic needs," she said. 

It comes on top of increasing interest rates announced by the Bank of Canada Wednesday, which can also hit low-income families harder as they typically carry more debt "because that's the only way that they can make it," she said. 

"They're going to be hit by that higher interest rate … they're being hit by high prices at the grocery store. 

"It's just one more nail in the coffin for people. So this is kind of like everything just sort of compounding on people right now."

Kehler says she thinks the provincial government should look into offering some kind of relief for Manitobans, like adjusting Employment and Income Assistance payments or offering a one-time grant. 

For those looking to save, De Haan suggests looking at different stations for the best price on gas in your area. 

"That volatility is resulting in some pretty significant gaps between what stations are charging, and that's why it is a very good idea for motorists that do need to fill their tanks to shop around."

With files from Thibault Jourdan and The Associated Press


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