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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Attention Newfoundland and Labrador!

All areas to see a drop in prices

When prices are adjusted next week to pricing for Newfoundland and Labrador consumers, we should catch a break at the pumps.

So far, as of yesterdays market close, we're looking at 2.8 cents a litre. If the trend continues, it should be something more than that.

Nova Scotia and New Brunswick consumers should get to see the benefits of the drop this coming Friday.

Take notice and spread the word to hold off on consumption, or, at least buy in some moderation until these drops hit. Looks like the consumer out there may have hit the brick wall on pricing.
I'll have more on this to come.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Drop gasoline taxes to aid tourism industry,” says consumer group

News release

Paradise, NL, May 28, 2007 – The provincial government should drop a portion of gasoline taxes in the province as an incentive to improve the tourism industry. A cut in the tax would be beneficial to Newfoundland and Labrador residents and those from out of province who see high gasoline pricing as a potential barrier to making the province a vacation destination this year.

“We know that gasoline pricing is high and is expected to stay that way for the rest of the summer but, besides governments’ strategic investments in advertising, it needs to give a financial incentive to consumers who they hope to draw to rural areas to spend some vacation money. Government has to be seen to be doing something for us as vacationers and for those who could potentially want to visit us,” said George Murphy, group researcher and member of the Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices.

“Last year, we made the call to drop some of the taxes on gasoline. Government said at the time, that they couldn’t. Their reasoning was that high pricing led to a drop in consumption and that meant less taxes collected. Contrary to what government said at the time, that’s not how it worked out. Last year, government collected $145 million, well up from the $142.5 collected in the year previous. This year, they are projecting nearly $147 million to be raised through gasoline taxes. Past numbers alone prove that people still had to buy gasoline, although the price was still high. They just didn’t go out of their way to visit as in other years.

“The increase in tourism numbers for the St. John’s area showed that there was more airline traffic into the city. Tourism numbers were up slightly in the St. John’s and surrounding area last year, but rural areas suffered a different fate. Rural areas didn’t have that same advantage and we need to give them a fighting chance at getting tourism revenue up. We also need to give the Newfoundland and Labradorian tourist the incentive to stay at home; give them a chance to explore our own province.

“Numbers were down from years previous by a few percentage points. Last year, we saw a sharp upwards increase in pricing that peaked during the first week of July. This year, they’ve hit last year’s numbers already. Pricing is expected to stay higher and for a longer time this summer. That could mean trouble for everyone and we’ll need to depend more on our own people to support our rural tourism markets.

“I think that consumers here already recognize the need for road and bridge work. We also have heard that government is intent on spending a “record” $66 million on roads and related infrastructure, a far cry from the money they have collected in the past from gasoline and other motive taxes. We’re not asking for much besides recognition from government that we have problem with high pricing. A cut of some four cents on a litre in gasoline taxes for the summer is not an unreasonable amount to ask for. What it symbolizes is that recognition, that as tourists and consumers, we are made to feel that we’re welcome at home too.”


For more information, contact;

George Murphy
Group researcher/ Member
Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices
(709)685-6186 cellular
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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

It's all about the refinery problem, but should it be?
You're hearing an awful lot about refinery problems and the ability of refineries to shove more expensive crude through the refinery system.
You're also hearing that demand and supply are in delicate balance and that inventories of gasoline remain low.
What you hear is all about what the markets want you to know and not about what they should be telling you. They've compromised the economy by taking a product like gasoline and increasing it incrementally to the point that it rises far ahead of the world inflation rate. It must be the only product in the world that can do that.
But, here we are at record prices, and Newfoundland and Labrador consumers will take another 3.6 cents a litre hit on Thursday morning, May 24th.
Hit the pumps again!
Hurts too...
What makes this one specially hard is the fact that the new price you'll see will be an all-time record outside of the couple of days in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Last year saw a record $1.22.5 a litre. Thursday should show $1.23.4 or close to it.
What also hurts is the fact that heating and stove oils are set to increase, albeit just a couple of tenths up. Reality tells me that tis the season for pricing to head the other way for a winter commodity. It just ain't happenin'!...
What kills me about all this is that Big Oil has been long quoting the Nigeria situation explaining the need for the best crude oil the world. What they haven't explained is the fact that oil is so expensive when there is plenty of the cheaper type crudes out there. Not everything that is available out there has to be a West Texas Intermediate, although it would be nice. The reality of the markets are telling consumers that we can get by without the expensive stuff and so should you.
Remember, Big Oil...You're making record dollars in refining. We shouldn't have to be made to follow the piper on this one. You created the refinery breakdown problem when you didn't invest big money into refinery maintenance. You must have known this would be a problem in the future.
Or, was it the need for better returns for your shareholders that caused all this? The scenario: well, if we don't invest in our refineries, we get to save money. When they break down, we get to reap the benefits of a fuel shortage!
For some reason, I just don't think that Big Oil had the consumer need at heart when they let that card slip from up the sleve.
Question is: what else have they got?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

All pricing up...
Markets just don't reflect the reality

Watching the markets today?
Yup. You know what's coming!...
If you happen to be close on empty right now, may I suggest a fill-up, because you know what you are going to see in the morning.
In the United States, you will be looking at another couple of pennies on a gallon while, here in Canada, you will see close to another two cents on a litre. Make note of the date on the blog here because when you come back again, conditions may have changed.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, while prices here won't be changed again until next Thursday, there is a guarentee that we'll be looking at close to another 4 cents on a litre at the pumps if all conditions stay the same.
Well, why?...
Today the markets are trading on speculation that there are going to be refinery issues this summer. That's not unlike when Hurricane Katrina blew in over the Gulf Coast in 2005. Back then, there was a promise of refinery disruptions that eventually came true. While nothing like that has happened yet, the markets are trading on future, perceived problems that HAVE YET TO OCCUR.
That's what's wrong with the gas pricing picture. We're paying for something now, rather than on what can actually happen.
That's like betting on the Toronto Maple Leafs winning Lord Stanley's mug; hardly likely this year but entirely likely in the next twenty years.
Yes, the Leafs will win the cup but it hasn't happened yet...
Traders are betting on your future. Let's hope they lose their shirts, but, right now, someone on the New York Mercantile Exchange is making a heck of a lot of commission and Big Oil loves them for it.
Conspiracy? Dunno about that, but certainly a symbiotic relationship!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The promise of increases to come...
Nigeria disruptions to supply, inventory losses, refinery problems...

We hear every day now, that pricing will rise further to consumers and that there is no relief in sight. What we do know is that refiners have been making a fortune and so have their Big Oil cousins. All said, the promise is there for pricing to hit record levels, especially after todays news.

The situation in Nigeria is a restless one. When oil was discovered there some years back, it brought with it the promise of a better life for those who didn't know the wealth to be gleaned from the underground resource. All that was heard was that "things wuld get a whole lot better".

They haven't...

Especially in the resource rich Niger delta where most of the resource is located.

The people there live in squalor and they have yet to see any tangible benefits like money for education, roads and infrastructure.

Where is Big Oil in this?

Does Big Oil have a responsibility to look after a people when it goes for their resources, especially when a government like that of Nigeria fails them? Should Big Oil continue to rape a resource knowing that the harvest of which can bring the problems that have come to be realised?

What of the next country?

Next time you go to the pumps, consider this:

If I have to pay high prices for a product that is succeptible to the pressures of a geo-political situation in Africa, should I have to see pump pricing that DEPENDS on a resource from that region? Should I be worried that someone is smacking a hole in a pipeline to get part of a product that I can take for granted at the pumps of Young Street in Toronto or Kenmount Road in St. John's?

Should geo-political problems elsewhere be the determining factor in the resons why Canada should have its own sources of supply rather than be dependent on someone else's resource, namely Nigeria's?

Toady, Shell announced that it has lost another 170k barrels a day in crude oil production from that country and so far, the markets are pointing up on the news. The promise is there at this time, to see another couple of cents on the pump price by tomorrow morning, all for the simple sake that the citizens of the Niger Delta are looking for their piece of the oil-rich pie: for fairness and fair treatment.

Perhaps it is time we look at ourselves and a secure supply for Canada, not just for our sake but for the sake of a people who are thrown to the wayside in the vain hope that Big Oil is looking merely at profits instead of ensuring the people of the country get their fair share rather than letting despots who rule the roost gather the benefits derived.

Perhaps Big Oil should take part responsibility in getting the people of that country looked after before they smack a drill-bit in the ground. Maybe they shouldn't pay directly to governments who aren't going to look after the people for them. Ahhhhh, but that's the way governance works in the world, isn't it?

Perhaps it should be the case where Big Oil should just back away until people's rights are recognised.



Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Gasoline to rise. Our turn to take the hit...
In Newfoundland and Labrador, consumers will wake up to find that pricing for gasoline did, indeed rise a couple of more pennies, to reach an unprecedented level for this time of the year.
Spot pricing for stove oils however, are showing a downwards trend thankfully...
So far, gasoline shows a 2.7 cents a litre increase while stove oils show 1.24 down. That's with two more business days to go.
I expect that both numbers will be less than what I have here with the next two days measurements included. I expect gasoline to show a more moderate increase than what I have and for stove oils to decrease still further.
Keep your ears to the media to hear the details. I'll have a release out in the morning when numbers for "day 13" come into play.
Now, for what's on my mind after all these increases in other jurisdictions the last couple of days...
When I first heard of the latest rounds of "panic buying" I kept wondering how these companies or businesses manage to stay in business without some sort of consumer revolt. I am absolutely amazed that some of these businesses could charge what they did-when they did without any hard evidence to justify such an increase in pricing to the consumer.
Vancouver did not deserve to see pricing that hit $1.32 a litre at the pumps. Nor did Toronto residents who saw an added 10 cents a litre.
Spot pricing for gasoline product peaked at 7 cents from April 22nd to reach 67.1 cents a litre on April 30th...
Just because we're dealing with a "savvy" oil industry that knows they can "do maintenance" to justify a draw on United States gasoline inventory does not justify the move in pricing that consumers saw. Shutdowns for refinery maintenance is taking longer to achieve the last couple of years and the periods that they claim for taking refineries off-line to do it, are getting longer.
My belief is that refiners want to draw on inventory to drive up pricing simply to recoup the capital costs for such "maintenance". The more time they take in getting refineries up, the less inventory is made available for the summer driving season. The less inventory gives the trader more time to speculate on future pricing of gasoline and other motive fuels and that means higher pricing to be paid for a product that is so important to the consumer.
We're lucky -this time- that our market here in Newfoundland and Labrador, is regulated. What regulation did at this time-frame the last week was take away the initiative for the companies to drive up pricing here. It also protected the consumer from an "artificially created" and imaginary problem that was created by the New York Mercantile Exchange traders. We were, at least partially protected from the hit consumers had to take on the mainland.
Should there be an investigation into the oil company's practises in North America?
Darn tootin'!...

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

What's got to break?
what will it take to draw down pricing?
I get a lot of people asking me these questions lately...
Maybe it's time I give everyone some answers on what has to change though, and not what will it take...
I've come to learn these things over time. some things here might be hard to understand. If you find it hard, drop me a note and I'll try to explain it later. Sometimes I have the tendency to "over-explain" things and that drives people, even my wife, nuts!
The problem you have on the markets is relatively simple though. What you have is the case where Big Oil closed refineries, we still kept driving as we always did and then some.
In short? While the oil companies "cut back", we didn't... and we also put more drivers on the road at the same time. Inventories are being impacted and, depending on the season, it could either be gasoline or heating oils and distillates that are affected.
We helped create the problem by not asking our car manufacturers to give us better gas mileage. We've created the problem by becoming dependent upon "exterior" sources of supply. We have allowed our own Canadian supply of raw product out of the country to be refined south of the border.
We are the authors of our own demise...
Today, as you are watching your pricing rise, remember the basics that have been created for all to see. Limiting supply to an increasing number of consumers equals trouble. Not asking our governments for better than what we've gotten over the last few years should also have us thinking a little bit into the future on anything that's sucking the bucks out of your pockets.
That's it from me for now,