Gas prices in 2007: Unjustified disparities at the pump, CAA-Quebec says



    QUEBEC, Feb. 19 /CNW Telbec/ - Looking back at the price of gas during
2007, CAA-Quebec has found that there are two completely different markets in
the province. In Montreal and western Quebec, there was a relatively balanced
market where motorists were occasionally able to buy gas for less than the
realistic pump price established by CAA-Quebec's Gasoline Watch. In
Quebec City and eastern parts of the province, however, pump prices were more
often than not higher than the realistic price.
    "In Montreal, the pump price for regular gasoline was higher than the
realistic price calculated by CAA-Quebec on 121 business days out of 245, or
49% of the time," explains Sophie Gagnon, CAA-Quebec's Senior Director, Public
and Government Relations. "In Quebec City, the same was true on 144 days, or
59% of the time. And even on days when the pump price dipped slightly below
our realistic price, consumers were still disadvantaged compared to those in
Montreal because, unlike in that city, the realistic price for Quebec City was
calculated based on a retail margin that was already higher than the 52-week
average for the province of Quebec overall. In fact, in Quebec City the
average retail margin is almost 20% higher than the provincial average retail
margin, which obviously results in inflation of the realistic price for that
region. That being said, our observations also allowed us to identify some
other trends."

    
    Disparities between Montreal and Quebec City

    - The retail margin pocketed by retailers remained, on average, higher in
      Quebec City (6.2 cents per litre) than in Montreal (3.3 cents per
      litre). Motorists in Montreal therefore got a break, considering that
      the average retail margin for the province was 5.2 cents per litre.

    - January saw the year's lowest prices (82.4 cents in Montreal,
      87.4 cents in Quebec City), while May saw the highest prices
      (118.4 cents in Montreal, 122.4 cents in Quebec City).

    Other observations

    - Gas price increases on a Friday or just before a long weekend seem once
      again to have been a myth in 2007. It is true that in Montreal the
      price went up on a Friday on six occasions during the year, but no
      increase was noted on that day of the week in Quebec City. Looking at
      the year's eight long weekends, CAA-Quebec recorded four price
      decreases, three increases and one period of stability in Montreal,
      versus three decreases and five periods of stability in Quebec City.

    - The average rack price for Montreal stood at 62.1 cents per litre,
      while in Toronto it was 63 cents. While historically the rack price has
      always been about a cent lower in Montreal, since Thursday, December 6,
      this price has been consistently higher in Montreal. There is a fairly
      obvious connection here with the "green tax" now charged by the Quebec
      government and applied retroactive to October 2007.

    - The average refining margin was 13.8 cents per litre. It reached a high
      mark of 28.7 cents on May 15, however, and fell as low as 3.3 cents on
      October 26. Over a period of 91 consecutive business days, from March 1
      to July 17, the refining margin was greater than 15 cents per litre.
      CAA-Quebec intends to continue monitoring this gas price component so
      as to better track its evolution.

    - Motorists in the province of Quebec continue to pay the highest taxes
      in the country, and Montreal has the dubious honour of being the major
      Canadian city with the highest tax rate on the average price of a litre
      of regular gasoline (at 38%, compared to an average of 32% for the rest
      of the country).
    

    What about other cities?

    In addition to Montreal and Quebec City, since May 16, 2007, Sherbrooke
has been on the list of cities monitored as part of the Gasoline Watch
program. CAA-Quebec observed, among other things, that there were long periods
of stable gas prices in Sherbrooke, which were not always to the benefit of
motorists. Those periods were marked by elevated retail margins (in excess of
7 cents per litre). On this aspect, CAA-Quebec observed, among other things,
that the western part of the province is generally favoured when it comes to
retail margins, which are often below the 52-week average, while the reverse
situation prevails in the east.

    Gasoline Watch: Still worthwhile

    More than ever, CAA-Quebec urges motorists to consult its Gasoline Watch
tool, online at www.caaquebec.com, where they can track the realistic price
calculated for their region, and thereby effectively manage their gas
purchases.

    CAA-Quebec, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1904, provides
automotive, travel, residential and financial services, benefits and
privileges to its 925,000 members.




For further information:

For further information: Montreal: Claudia Martin, (514) 861-7111, ext.
3210, clmartin@caaquebec.com; Quebec: Philippe St-Pierre, (418) 624-2424, ext.
2418, pstpierre@caaquebec.com

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