How Trudeau and Horgan could cut B.C. gas prices

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How Trudeau and Horgan could cut B.C. gas prices

Time is ripe for EVs in BC it seems.

Why Trudeau’s pet pipeline will not solve B.C.’s gas price woes

Of the many myths about the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project (TMEP) project, none is more fatuous than the false hope that it will necessarily reduce British Columbians’ gas prices.

More pipe = more capacity = greater supply of light oil and refined products = lower gas prices, is their pitch, on behalf of Alberta’s tarsands producers. 

Makes sense, on the surface: like skimming a bitumen slick with an oil boom.

If you really believe that pumping more tarsands crude across B.C. will reduce your gas pains, Donald Trump has a Make Alberta Great Again hat with your name on it.

Trouble is, that supply-side argument for twinning the Trans Mountain Pipeline (TMP) has a lot of intuitive appeal, like all logical fallacies.

Fighting back on that myth in theory and reality ain’t easy, but I’ll give it a layman’s go, if you have the time and inclination to entertain this long and deep dive into this issue.

If anything, the TMEP stands to increase the price the gasoline, diesel, and other refined products for British Columbians, if it serves its intended purpose.


Because the costs of the TMEP will be far greater than its proponents imagine, if and when it ever gets built.

And because the laws of supply and demand are not always what they appear at first blush.

Especially when one confuses what the TMEP is actually designed to supply with what is really demanded to help ease pressure on B.C. gas prices.

Clearly, pipeline capacity issues and B.C.’s deteriorating refining capacity have played a major role in driving up B.C. refining margins and pump prices. No one is arguing they haven’t.

But the reason that has become such a relatively more expensive problem for B.C. motorists than for other Canadians is not because the existing TMP lacks sufficient capacity to serve their needs, as such.

Rather, it is because of how British Columbians’ interests have been increasingly discounted and shortchanged by a broken free market system that gives priority to the oil companies’ vested interests in padding their profits.

B.C.’s pump problems are largely the result of the unwanted effects of unregulated supply and demand in an unstable, unduly volatile oil market that can and must be consciously corrected as part of any plan going forward. With or without the TMEP.

The West Coast’s only oil artery has been deliberately “hardened” over the years with diluted bitumen bound for export markets.

The “capacity” problem has only become acute because the “lifeblood” it was built to pump—i.e. refined products and light oil—has been slowly displaced with heavy oil, and no one lifted a finger to stop it.

That is the root cause of B.C. motorists’ heart attacks at the pumps, dizzy in disbelief as their gas bills shoot up and up.

There is no guarantee that that problem will be fundamentally alleviated by the TMEP, absent new regulatory intervention by the federal and B.C. governments.

What the TMEP will do is raise B.C. gas prices if there isn't a concerted plan to prevent that from happening.


I seem to recall some province stopping the daily rise and fall of the price at the pumps and only allowing the oil companies to change their retail prices once a week. 

It seems to have been a pattern here now for some time where prices are dropped on Thursday evenings and then jacked up on Friday mornings for the weekend travelling.