Gas prices have soared to more than $1.30 per litre after bottoming out around $1 in January.

Gas prices soar above $1.30 despite lagging crude oil

Petroleum analyst cites refinery shutdowns, tightening supply for sudden rise in pump prices

Gasoline prices in Metro Vancouver have soared 30 per cent since bottoming out at around $1 per litre in mid-January.

And a petroleum industry analyst says there are multiple factors motorists can blame for the sudden pain they’re now feeling at the pump.

Refineries across North America have been shut down due to cold weather, a strike and even an explosion, said Jason Parent, vice-president of consulting for MJ Ervin and Associates.

“A fair amount of refining capacity came offline and it really did tighten up supply,” he said.

That’s been amplified by scheduled shutdowns for maintenance and something else that happens like clockwork as spring looms – more vehicles take to the road as winter recedes, gas supplies shrink further and pump prices rise.

“It’s not just you guys, it’s happening across Canada,” said Parent, adding the wholesale price gas stations pay has shot up sharply in recent weeks.

Drivers struggle to understand how gas prices could be so high again when the price of crude oil is still way down.

The average Metro Vancouver price for regular gas of $1.31 as of Monday afternoon   is back to approximatey the same level it was in early October.  Back then, crude oil was above $85 a barrel compared to about $50 now after a slight rebound from its January lows.

Parent said the divergence of the two commodities underscores the fact that the crude oil component cost is a small part of the overall picture that drives gas prices compared to refinery capacity and gasoline supply and demand.

He said the weak Canadian dollar has also contributed to higher pump prices right now relative to stations in the U.S.

MJ Ervin officials expect a further gradual rise in retail gas prices in the months ahead.

Vancouver Historical Gas Price Charts Provided by GasBuddy.com

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