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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Stove and heating to take a beating…
Numbers show possible increase coming to heating and stove oils

Media release

Conception Bay South, NL, May 28, 2008- Consumers in Newfoundland and Labrador can expect to see a possible increase to heating and stove oils this Thursday as numbers seem to show that the Petroleum Pricing Office may have to use the interrupter formula.

“Six days of a possible seven days data shows a possible upwards movement of 4.4 cents a litre, just 4/10ths over the requirement for the use of the interrupter formula. I don’t believe that, in spite of the drop in oil yesterday, that distillate prices dropped enough to prevent the use of the formula so, it looks like consumers here may be hit,” said George Murphy, of the Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices.

“Gasoline numbers are showing an added 3.5 cents a litre, not inclusive of taxes, so, according to the rules, that fuel is not susceptible to a price change tonite. However, I will be going to the pumps in case their numbers were a little more volatile than my own in this case. It’s only by a half cent and I really need that last days data to make the more accurate prediction. That day’s data won’t be available to me until after Thursday’s price move- IF it happens. I’d rather err on the side of caution personally. In the event there is no move in pricing on Thursday then consumers will most likely get tagged next Thursday at the regular price change time.

" What should sicken people is the simple fact that, if this price change holds true, it will be happening at a time when the trend traditionally shows downwards in the summer non-demand season for heating and stove oils. People should realy be worried over their heating expenses this coming winter if this keeps up. Heavy investment is beginning to lead to a collapse in the need for heating and stove oil product. Investment is actually going to kill the distillate market by making this product unaffordable to most consumers in North America. Are they pricing Canadian and US consumers out just to send the product overseas to the more lucritive European and Aian markets?

"Are we easterners going to be left freezing in the dark?

“Continued heavy demand by investors in commodities like gasoline and distillates again are playing heavy into the markets this past week and there was some added pressure on gasoline as well with the final run-up to the US Memorial Day holiday. What we keep hearing out there is the fact that all this high price jargon continues to make for an artificially-supported price and there is simply no justification in numbers that we see here that they should be this high. This is a bubble that is soon to break and bring investors to the short end of the stick. At least, here's hoping!”


For more information, contact;

George Murphy
Group researcher/Member
Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices My email:

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Ottawa won’t help ease pressure on consumers
Says there’s nothing they can do

Media release

Conception Bay South, NL, May 22, 2008 – Consumers in Canada and in Newfoundland and Labrador will have to face the uphill costs of oil pricing without any help from Ottawa even though they have the means to do it, that’s according to George Murphy of the Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices.

“We’ve long asked the province as well as Ottawa, to help consumers in this province as well as the rest of the country, address the higher costs of energy that includes everything from heating and stove oils, natural gas and transportation fuels and both Ottawa and the province have, as yet to respond outside of the province passing heating rebates. According to some news stories, they have quoted the Prime Minister as saying that ‘Ottawa can do nothing’ to help the consumer and that ‘we can’t go out and spend like drunken sailors’.

“I beg to differ with the Prime Minister on these points as we have suggested several steps over the years that have gone ignored by his office and that of the natural resources minister, Gary Lunn. What we have found out is that the Prime Minister should have said ‘We are not willing to do anything about escalating oil prices and high prices to consumers’.

“Over the years, we have suggested cuts in transportation taxes, the dropping of the GST/HST off all forms of heat, and a system of inventory reporting to make Big Oil accountable for the energy resources it exports and reports in this country. All these calls have gone unanswered by the Prime Minister’s office and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Perhaps the Prime Minister should call a First Minister’s meeting at his behest and prove that he can co-operate with the provinces and try to reach a consensus on dropping some of the taxation components on transportation fuels.

“What should bug consumers in this country is the simple fact that, rather than do nothing, the federal and provincial governments should be seen to be doing something. To me, it shows weak leadership when consumers in this country are looking for help but they can’t get it. Ottawa and the provinces should be working closely together on this issue for consumers but they're not. So much for federal-provincial relations!

“Our tourism and transportation, forestry and fishing sectors are all in trouble with a high dollar and we still have to deal with the governments OPEC dependency; a country such as ours, loaded with oil resources, and we’re still importing from OPEC members. Break the OPEC dependency, for one.

“We’ve suggested everything else from a moratorium on refinery closures, new competition rules that would outlaw the ‘reciprocal sales agreements’ between oil companies and investments in hydro projects like the new Churchill Falls development, but all calls have gone unheeded. While this federal government is in power, it’s going to be harder still to show the rest of Canadians that it can lead on consumer issues. On the energy cost issue and the high price of oil, right now it’s not showing much imagination to guard Canadians from the future. Right now, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is not standing on guard for thee and Canadians should be disappointed with his cavalier attitude on energy pricing issues.”


For more information, contact;

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

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Last weeks miss is this weeks hit…
Consumers will see price increase to gasoline this Thursday

Media release

Conception Bay South, May 20, 2008- Consumers in Newfoundland and Labrador will face the inevitable this coming Thursday morning when they will experience another increase at the pumps.

What consumers will see
“Consumers barely dodged the increase last week. Numbers were so close that they fell within the margin of error that I work with and that’s why we made a price increase warning. This week, there is no mistaking that there is going to be an increase at the regular price setting. Numbers are still falling close to what we had last week, of 3.9 or 4.0 cents per litre up at the pumps. That’s with twelve days reporting out of a possible 14 needed to get the final numbers.

“Heating and stove oils are showing an added 65/100ths of a cent up and that may be pointing the way of diesel fuels as well. We’re still not seeing the substantial drop in distillate prices in the non-demand season as in other years and that should be very concerning for those using distillates for winter heating sources.

Why prices will be going up
“Market volatility is still playing heavy in the markets this last two weeks. Heavy trading in commodities against a lower U.S dollar continues to be a factor in oil and its related refined commodities. Distillates, as of last week, are still showing an increase in demand over the same timeframe last year, of close to one per cent. Of course, we still have the same geo-political conditions still playing themselves out in the markets as well and that’s besides the various disruptions and threats to supply. While refiner capacity increased last week, low reported profit margins are not enticing refiners to get back into the production of gasoline while gasoline itself, shows a drop in consumer demand by .2 per cent ahead of the traditional start of the US summer driving season. The big news this week however, is that heating and stove oils continue to show an increase in price while we enter the non-demand season and this should be a worry to those users of fuels for the coming winter. If we don’t start to see a drop in demand numbers there along with a corresponding drop in spot prices, we are going to be in big trouble.

Some changes made to the Gas and Oil Update
We have made some changes that will make it easier for consumers to obtain our information. Consumers only have to go to and use the subscribe option to get the ‘Heating and Gasoline Update’ delivered to their inbox. I found that it was simply too hard to get everyone to send you an email back when their email address had changed. This will make it easier to do the administration of good versus bad email addresses that has long been a problem. I hope that the consumers of the province avail of the service as it is a free service to consumers.


For more information, contact;

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

Thursday, May 15, 2008

How it all worked out...
I guess by the time you all drop in on this note, you will have already heard where the numbers went; mostly up. I guess we dodged a bullet when gas didn't move as I thought it would, but how close was it in the end?
From my media friends at VOCM, I got details of the hit on heating and stove oils and, as it turns out, with seven days now reporting here, I was out by something in the order of 3/100ths of a cent. My final number aloowed for an increase of 7.71 cents. That means that the decrease we all got from the removal of "jet" from the summer mix, was eradicated in one stroke of the pen.
What's worse is that our fishers and transportation sectors got the perverbial kick in the teeth overnight with an allowable 9.2 cents a litre increase to diesel pricing. That's why I say in my releases whenever I talk about the heating/stove oil numbers that "the number may also be pointing the way that diesel will also be going", in this case, UP...
Gas was a little different as the volitility of the markets got to me on this fuel.In the end I had an allowable of 4.1 cents a litre, if you include taxation, or 3.6 without the tax component. The interrupter works on the basis of a four cent a litre movement up or down as measured over seven days.
I usually call my shot with five days reporting so everyone can be a step ahead, particularly when it comes to heating and stove oils and to give the media a chance to report and get the word out to everyone...
My margin for error is 3/10ths of a cent and, with the volitility I figured that I would get the word out on a chance increase in case I might be off just a little; in this case by that extra 1/10th of a cent that would have moved my numbers up to four cents even on gasoline. Guess I "missed it by that much".
Hence, we dodge a bullet for this week with pricing for gasoline still on track for a possible 3.6 cent a litre plus taxes increase coming for next week at the regular setting of prices.
I just hope no one was inconvenienced by my call on this one.
Oh well, it's off to bed and call Randy Simms in the morning!
Sometimes, a tenth of a cent can ruin
George Murphy

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Another kick in the personal economic teeth
Numbers warrant an increase to heating/stove oils…Again

News release

Conception Bay South, NL, May 13, 2008- Unless divine intervention sets into the markets this week, and soon, consumers in Newfoundland and Labrador will experience the biggest weekly hike in heating and stove oil pricing that they have ever seen for this time of the year.

“Numbers for heating and stove oils show an allowable 7.4 cent a litre increase coming this Thursday morning as these numbers fall well within the guidelines set for early interruption of pricing, that’s also with five days out of a possible seven days of data needed for interruption to occur. Being a part of the distillate group, there is a possibility that diesel may also get hit.

“Gasoline now is showing an allowable of 3.5 cents a litre but, the way those numbers have been going as of late, it wouldn’t surprise me if pricing did move early. Those numbers are just outside of the guides for interruption but, just by a minimum. There is still a slight chance that they won’t albeit; I’m still hitting the pumps myself on Wednesday night.

“Continued heavy investment in commodities ahead of the dropping US dollar, supply disruptions and the continuing geo-political situation are to blame as they always have been. I just find it incredible that heating and stove oil pricing will increase again, all during the non-demand season. Right now, I am looking at a 95.00 cent a litre cost price where there was a 55.00 cent a litre cost last year for this time period. It’s early but there are the signs of big trouble on the heating and stove oil fronts this winter coming.”


For more information, please contact;

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

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Disaster in the making
Air Canada hikes airfares ahead of tourism season

Media release

Conception Bay South, NL, May 10, 2008- Air Canada raised fuel surcharges on all fares yesterday and that could prove a back-breaker for the Newfoundland and Labrador tourism sector this year.

“The move by Air Canada follows the major United States airlines that raised their airfares as a result of higher fuel costs. American, United and Delta airlines all raised their airfares by $20.00 US on all flights bringing total fuel surcharges to those companies that add up to near $130.00 US,” Murphy said. “That is far less than what Air Canada will be charging in total for flights that exceed 1600 kilometers. As far as I can tell, Air Canada will be charging close to $180.00 in fuel surcharges alone and the government, no doubt, will also get a piece of the price of the extra costs on the ticket. I think Air Canada overdid the surcharge.”

“The federal government, along with the provinces, is going to have to do something big here to prevent a disaster from falling on our tourism sectors in this country this year and it’s going to have to be done now. Here in Newfoundland and Labrador, we depended heavily on air traffic to bring visitors here and now they face the huge costs to get here as a result of being far away from most major centers. If I come from Toronto, I will be subject to the additional $120.00 in fuel surcharges that Air Canada brought in yesterday. Can the federal government address the tax on airfares?

“We’ve asked government here to address high road taxes. If our visitors cannot afford to fly, then perhaps with a little incentive like dropping some of the gasoline taxes, they could promote more drive-in traffic into the province. God knows the tourism sector could use the help now as Big Oil continues to reap the rewards of the high cost of oil.”


For more information, contact;

George Murphy
Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices

I dunno people...I talked about this possibility just before Christmas this year and government still didn't act...I guess they'll be in panic mode now.Going to cost some flying back and forth
Ft. Mac a fortune now...I just hope a lot of you booked early like I recommended.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Oil keeps rising, so does the price of gas
Consumers to get dinged at the pumps again

Media release

Conception Bay South, NL, May 7, 2008- Consumers in Newfoundland and Labrador will notice a jump at the pumps again tonight, that’s according to George Murphy, group researcher and member of the Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices.

“Consumers in Newfoundland and Labrador can expect to see another increase at the pumps tonight as numbers are showing an allowable two cents a litre over twelve days of data recorded. While stove oils show a very slight decline, the number is too low to note any real change in pricing and that may be an indicator that there will be a slight adjustment in heating and diesel oil pricing,” said Murphy.

Reasons why prices will go up
“Continued supply disruptions in Nigeria and the promise of Kurdish attacks against Northern Iraq oil infrastructure as revenge against the United States for sharing satellite intelligence with Turkey, drops in production in Russia and Mexico and heavy investment in related fuel commodities continues to dictate what consumers will pay at the pumps. A run-up in oil driven mainly by speculators continues to put upward pressure on oil pricing as a result of investors hedging against the drop in the U.S dollar.

New investment laws needed
“There’s a fine line between investment in the actualities of the oil markets and the reality of the markets that has been costing people so much. Using important consumer products that have faced no appreciable increase in demand has become the norm in the markets as of late. The simple laws of supply and demand have been thrown to the wind. Food costs have gone up merely on speculation that they will be of more interest to companies for the manufacture of bio-fuels rather than for the basics of human consumption and this has already caused problems in other countries. The high cost of diesel has resulted in other added costs to foodstuffs. It is only a matter of time before we see more food costs passed to the consumer. What investors are doing instead of speculating on the actualities of the markets is, in fact, speculating on starvation. They’re betting that food as a fuel is more important than food for consumption.

Time for a new National Energy Program to protect Canadians?
“The Government of Canada should certainly be looking at the possibility of protecting the Canadian consumer from outside sources of pricing influence knowing that we are self-reliant in our resources of oil. We should, as a country, institute a new National Energy Policy that protects Canadian consumers and industries like the fishery from outside influences like OPEC. If they can sell gasoline in downtown Tehran for 11 cents a US gallon, then we can sell our own refined product to Canadians for a Canadian price.

Heating oil users will face problems next winter
“I have not noted any appreciable drop in heating oil prices and that remains a worry as consumers usually start to see a retreat in distillate pricing during the spring. That trend has yet to happen and the promise is there to see higher than normal pricing again next winter. Prices need to see a retreat of almost 50 cents a litre in the coming months to return to some form of ‘normalcy’ in their heating expenses. A lot of people have to jump in here in order to avoid any problems for consumers and to put heating/stove oil pricing back to where they were in 2005.

Food banks will need help
“Heating oil users face a dilemma this coming winter if pricing does not return to more affordable levels. They will again be faced with the challenge of choosing between food and fuel this winter. Food banks can expect to see another increase in traffic if heating oil pricing fails to drop. Numbers here indicate the fact that consumers will face that tough choice as all models show heating/stove oil pricing will be up again this coming winter. Although it is very early to predict the price range, it looks as though consumers can expect to pay close to that $1.00 a litre again if numbers for heating/stove oils fail to retreat.”


For more information, contact;

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