Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Filling up with outrage at Northwest pumps

With a bit of time on his hands with the prorogation of Parliament, Nathan Cullen the MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley has been doing some driving around the different communities of the riding, and with his journey has come a shared pain with his constituents, that of the high price of gasoline in some communities of the Northwest.

Last Wednesday’s Daily News outlined Cullen’s travels and thoughts on the price and pricing of gasoline.

Gas Price inequity angers MP
Nathan Cullen wants fairness on forecourt
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Pages one and three

Wildly fluctuating gas prices for customers from Smithers to Prince Rupert has Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen thinking that it might be time for the Canadian Competition Bureau to looks into the way different gas prices are reached.

"For anyone to believe that this is a free and open market in which prices are determined by open demand they are living on another planet," said Cullen during his latest bi-monthly teleconference.

Like many people in the Northwest, Cullen drives the roads and has seen the varying prices where, according a website dedicated to providing up-to date gas prices across the province,, the price for gas Monday morning in Smithers was 77.9 cents per litre and the price in Prince Rupert was 83.9 cents per litre.

"From the analysis of a bunch of energy economists, it's what will the consumer bear?" said Cullen.

The MP said instability in the Middle East caused a more compassionate consumer base when it came to high oil prices but when things calm down _ and petroleum prices drop as they have in the past month - consumers expect prices to reflect that.

The Associated Press reported that oil prices fell below $42 a barrel on Monday as reports from manufacturers including Toyota and Caterpillar pointed to a worsening global economic climate and serious deterioration in energy demand.

The Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries cut back 2.2 million barrels in production the largest cutback in history - in an attempt to push up the price.

"One, is what can consumers physically pay for and two is what can they intellectually tolerate. If the news is filled with higher oil prices or if there is crisis in the Middle East, then consumers will tolerate higher prices," said Cullen.

He criticized the fact that the supply and demand notion seems to be completely out the window and that when, both nationally and regionally, there are towns right beside refineries paying 15 cents more than towns a thousand kilometers away from refineries, the system is out of step with proper economics.

"Prices need oversight," he said.

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