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Price jumps at the pumps

Crude oil trend hitting home

Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Apr 10/02) - Upheaval in the Middle East and global oil market trends are hitting Yellowknifers at the pumps.

Gasoline prices have jumped between three and six cents per litre in the last two weeks.

On Monday a litre of regular unleaded gas sold for 89.4-89.9 cents.

Self-served gas was selling for a penny less.

Managers at local gas bars said prices are likely to increase rather than decrease in the near future.

"It's certainly not unique to the North," said Imperial Oil spokesperson Hart Searle. "You're seeing it right across Canada."

The average price of gas in Canada a week ago was 68.8 cents per litre, according to the most recent MJ Ervin Weekly Pump Price Survey.

Yellowknife had the highest price of the 44 cities in the April 2 survey.

The 86.2 cents charged here was 11.3 cents more the that charged in Bathurst and Moncton, the two cities with the next-highest prices.

World oil prices have risen over the last three weeks with an increase in North American demand and decrease in world inventory levels.

Selling for $20 a barrel on North American markets earlier this year, a barrel of crude now fetches $26-27.

War in the Middle East has also contributed to the upward trend.

Prices dipped briefly last week immediately after U.S. President George Bush called for an Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian territories, then jumped Monday when Iraqi President Saddam Hussein announced a 30-day moratorium on oil exports.

Fuel prices have an impact on almost every aspect of the economy, particularly in remote cities such as Yellowknife.

RTL Robinson Enterprises spokesperson Janet Robinson said in the trucking industry fuel is treated separately from haulage rates.

Fuel costs are passed on to the customers of trucking companies, whether those customers are grocery stores, mines or construction companies.

The increases are also hitting home owners. Citing the same influences, one local distributor of heating fuel raised its price from 43 cents to 45.5 cents a litre on Saturday.