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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Interrupter criteria met for stove oils
Premier asked to “Expedite” rebate and retrofit programs

News release

St. John’s, NL, November 28, 2007- Numbers are showing that the Petroleum Pricing Office will be forced to bump up pricing to consumers of stove oils and possibly heating oils early Thursday as the price for those important consumer petroleum products continues to rise.

“With six out a possible seven days, I have numbers that warrant a five cent a litre increase on stove oils. Heating oil being also part of the same distillate group will probably see a substantial increase also. Jet fuel and #2 heating oil are blended during the winter months as jet is used as an antifreeze agent. Jet fuel has traded very high, much higher than stove oils the past two weeks or so. It’s probably inevitable that heating oils will also take a shot upwards,” Murphy said. “Gasoline numbers show a 3.3 cent a litre increase so far but that won’t happen this Thursday as the criteria for interruption weren’t met for that fuel”

“That would make our high price in the St. John’s area for heating oil hit 92.47 cents a litre, shattering last years record. The fact that we are now in a downturn with the Canadian dollar, losing value against its U.S counterpart and that has only aggravated the problem. We predicted that this would happen and come back to complicate things for consumers. If the Bank of Canada reduces interest rates later this week, it will only aggravate it further.

“There’s one word for government in all this. ‘Expedite!’ As consumers, we have waited long enough for an announcement on a heating and rebate program that will include everyone. We warned the government to get ready to have their program in place last July and we’re still waiting. When the next increase in price hits, we’ll be waiting still.”


For more information, contact:

George Murphy
Group researcher/Member
Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pricing continues to increase
Numbers show fuel prices increasing this Thursday

News release

St. John’s, NL, November 20, 2007- Fuel prices are set to increase to consumers this coming Thursday and the news may not get any better for the summer driving season, that’s if the numbers hold as they are. While consumers will suffer this winter keeping warm , they will also be hit keeping cool this coming summer.

“The news is not good as we head into winter. Record spot pricing is being reflected in the markets and that means consumers are going to be paying more for important petrol products for the foreseeable future,” said George Murphy, group researcher and member of the Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices. “There’s even the hint of bad news for the summer if the numbers keep up the way they have been on gasoline.”

Thursday price change
“With twelve days out of a possible fourteen to go on, we’re looking at 2.4 cents per litre up on stove oils and 3.0 cents up on gasoline for this coming Thursday. Heating oil numbers are now reflected by a 25/75 mix of heating and jet fuels. The heating number is showing 2.4 cents but, once again, 25 per cent of that is only used. I do not have numbers for jet fuel so, being a distillate also, I can only tell the consumers that those numbers are also up. They should take that as bad news. Today, oil is trading at $98 per barrel so; I don’t expect any lower numbers for the other two days of data.
We're witnessing the opposite effect with the Canadian dollar as well with it losing ground against its US counterpart.What was once an insulating effect is slowly coming back to burn consumers.We've lost five cents there in less than two weeks of measurement. It is essentially, the main reason we're looking at a rough three cents on everything.

Why the numbers are going up
Several reasons are being cited for the next round of increases that we are going to see, and probably will see, in the coming weeks.
The U.S dollars fall against other world currencies has led investors to drive up the cost of oil. While the U.S dollar is seen as a bad investment, they want to put money into other commodities like oil that have a little more security behind them. That’s another reason for the skyrocketing costs of gold. Even OPEC has discussed changing from the U.S dollar and that remains a bone of contention with some OPEC members who disagree with any future change in how oil is measured. Longtime enemies of the U.S, namely Iran and Venezuela, are soliciting for a change from the U.S measurement.

Other reasons for rising costs
. Continuing low refiner capacity. While there have been very modest builds in crude oil and gasoline inventories, there have been draw-downs on distillate inventories. Heating oil costs have risen as a result and the coming winter season has attracted investors there.
· Ongoing world violence. Kind of self explanatory but, we’ve been dealing with this problem for ages now. It’s still there and won’t go away. The problems remain in Northern Iraq remain and Turkey remains keyed to invade the region and pacify the Kurdish population. There remains a supply disruption possibility.
· No boost in OPEC production. OPEC announced last week that it had formally “lost control of pricing of oil product” but it would not be stepping up production of oil as it feels that the “market remains well supplied” with product. The markets reacted by trading up on oil.

Historic numbers
“At this same time last year, November 17/06, spot prices for heating and stove oils were recorded at 48.86 cents a litre. Gasoline spot was recorded at 47.39 cents a litre. This year those numbers are 66.10 cents for heating/stove and 62.53 cents for gasoline. That’s a 17 cent a litre disparity for heating/stove oils and 15 cents for gasoline. I don’t think I have to point out the implications of higher spots this year over last year.

Early summer forecast
“If we don’t see gasoline numbers come down before the spring hits, then we may see new record prices for gasoline again this coming summer. Add that to the fact that the U.S dollar is close to or, almost at par with the Canadian dollar, and we have a potential hit to our tourism industry. It’s going to be a little harder getting tourists from the U.S to drive up for a visit. Is there another tourism initiative in the works to help operators who will need the extra help in attracting visitors?

No announcement of rebate programs
“We’re still waiting for some kind of word from government on any heating rebate or retrofit programming for this year. While consumers are dealing with high pricing at an early stage of the season, those costs are reflective of last February. We still have a long time to go before we hit the winter peak in pricing. We need to make sure that all consumers are helped out with one of the most costly winters in recent memory. All Newfoundland and Labradorians, as well as Canadians, will be paying much higher prices this coming winter and all of them will need help.”


For more information, contact;

George Murphy
Group researcher/Member
Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices