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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Numbers confirm interruption to fuel prices is likely

Media release

Conception Bay South, NL, October 27, 2009- After nearly two weeks of rising oil prices, consumers in Newfoundland and Labrador are set to pay more for fuel products this coming Thursday morning when the Public Utilities Board moves to use the interruption formula to re-adjust prices.

“I’ve been tracking elevated spot prices for the last several days, said George Murphy, group researcher for the Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices. “According to the rules of interruption, you need seven days of data where the spot price exceeds that of the previous price setting by at least four cents a litre. The data indicates movement upwards for all fuels I monitor. Here’s what I have:

• Heating and stove oils will increase by 4.41 cents per litre.
• Diesel fuels will increase by close on 5.1 cents per litre, and…
• Gasoline will increase by 7.0 cents per litre.

“It’s disturbing to see an increase in fuel prices now, particularly when the economy is trying so hard to recover from the recent downturn. These increases as of late, take a lot of momentum out of the economy and removes disposable income from the consumer, particularly as we are also getting close to winter and the important Christmas season. All this is coming in on the tail of a fuel surcharge increase from Marine Atlantic and it does nothing but increase the inflation rate to the Newfoundland and Labrador consumer.

Draw-downs in gasoline inventory, a much defined drop in refiner capacity and a pick-up in economic recovery are reasons for the recent hikes in prices.


For more information, contact:

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

Monday, October 26, 2009

Update #2

Monday, Monday...
Didn't change much, so it's not so good for me.....
Even though we saw oil slide today because of the OPEC news today, we lost ground against the US dollar and that keeps the numbers up.
OPEC is promising to "pick up production if oil prices get too high". Yes, I found that one hard to believe too...
Here's what I have for this Thursday, with one more business day of data to get before the final numbers:
  • Heating and stove oils now show up by 4.37 cents a litre from Sundays'4.48 cents, down a fraction.
  • Diesel now shows up by 5.1 cents a litre from 5.3 cents on Sunday, and...
  • Gasoline shows up by 6.9 cents a litre!...

I'll be back in here tomorrow night with the final call on what should be happening for Thursday.

Remember to spread the word on this one. This one is SUBSTANTIAL, to say the least!



Saturday, October 24, 2009

Update #1
Interruption to all fuel prices likely
Just a warning here that you're going to get a few notes from me between now and Tuesday night simply because, by the look of things, we're going to see an interruption to fuel prices by this Thursday coming.
I think everyone knows that, in order for fuel price interruption to occur, you have to have seven days where the average price movement is four cents a litre over or under the previous price setting.
First off, numbers from Wednesday of one week to the Tuesday of the following week are used to determine if fuel price interruption is warranted. In this case, I have data that covers from Wednesday the 21st to Sunday, the 25th. The Friday numbers are used for both Saturday and Sunday as there is no market trading on those days. Cut-off on Tuesday, there is a two day time frame for notification purposes and we see price changes on Thursday.
Since the last price setting, I have a recorded movement greater than required for the five days so far. Two more days to figure in here yet, but with oil trading over $80 US a barrel, I don't think there will be a mass sell-off before the Tuesday evening cut-off, which is the seventh day of data needed to come up with the final number.
Here's what I have so far, keeping in mind that I have to get two more days of data.
  • Heating and stove oils show an upwards movement of 4.48 cents a litre.
  • Diesel shows upwards movement by 5.3 cents a litre, and...
  • Gasoline shows upwards movement of 6.4 cents a litre.

You might want to forward this note to everyone you know. With two more days to go, there could be larger numbers to come.

I'll keep you all up to date on this. Next posting will be Monday evening so, check the blog then for another notice.



Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Oil gains Ten bucks in two weeks
Numbers up for all fuels

Media release

Conception Bay South, NL, October 20, 2009- Oil has spiked close to ten dollars a barrel over the past two weeks and consumers in Newfoundland and Labrador will have to pay a little more at the pumps as of Thursday morning as a result, that’s from George Murphy, group researcher and member of the Consumer Group for Fair Gas prices.

“Oil has increased to a new one year record and, in spite of the rise in the Canadian dollar; there will be increases to all petroleum product prices this week. It could very well just be the start of a round of increases to consumers coming off the latest binge in buying of commodities as economic recovery continues to gain steam,” said Murphy.

“Numbers show that heating and stove oils will increase by 3.25 cents per litre, diesel by 3.8 cents and gasoline will increase by a marginal 1.8 cents a litre. The real story of increases to gasoline may come next week, that’s if market conditions hold up. We may, in fact, see interruption to prices if we don’t see a retreat in oil or if the Canadian dollar stalls in its advance against the US greenback.

“A surprise draw on gasoline inventories, slight inventory building and investment in commodities as a hedge against inflation have all pared into the markets this week past. It also didn’t help to see oil increase with improving economic news, especially with an increase in demand and a drop in refinery capacity. The question is now: How long will the price of oil remain elevated and what the ramifications are of that to the consumer? We’re starting to see an increase to consumers for heating oil products before the onset of winter and that brings some worry to lower income consumers of heating oil products.

For more information, contact;

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

PS: I tried to post all the data I had but that failed miserably. I'm going to have to do a little experimentation with that to see if I can't get that all in so you can all see where i get all my numbers.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

No pricing changes this week!

Here's what I have so far for this pricing session.
  • Heating and stove oils are up by 1.22 cents a litre.
  • Diesel numbers show 1.4 cents up from last weeks price setting, and...
  • Gasoline shows DOWN by 7/10ths of a cent.

As you can tell by the numbers, there hasn't been any movement in the numbers even though the US price for oil, and it's related, refined commodities has increased a lot.

The reason?The meteoric rise in the Canadian dollar which is an important factor in gauging prices.

Since the numbers were last set, as of Tuesday last week, I've seen the Canuck Buck gain almost five cents against the US greenback.

So, what does the rise in the dollar have on refined commodities then, you ask?

If I take the last days trading and account for the gained five cents in the banking markets, then we're talking a saving to consumers of a rough 2.5 cents on heating and stove oils, 3.5 cents a litre on diesel and three cents from gasoline.

We dodged any fuel price interruption this week, thanks in part to the dollar's rise the past seven market days!

Prediction for you for next week: while the numbers are steadily increasing for oil and related commodities, the dollar will gain again this week and that will offset any increases coming down the pipeline for consumers. Distillate fuels like heating, stove and diesel will see piece-meal increases while gasoline will show "steady".

Look for the Canuck Buck to show parity with the US greenback by next week, not next January as some market figures are telling you. It's coming sooner rather than later.


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

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Prices close to a buck a litre short-lived
Gasoline set to rise again

Media release

Conception Bay South, NL, October 6, 2009- Gasoline prices are set to rise again, that’s according to George Murphy, group researcher for the Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices.

Since last week, I’ve been seeing some evidence out there that there is some economic recovery happening and that is bringing with it the promise of a possible rise in interest rates and more investment in commodities like petroleum products. Last weeks inventory data out of the United States also saw a surprise draw on gasoline inventories signifying an increase in demand and all these factors are combining to show us an increase in gasoline prices this week,” said Murphy.

“Gasoline prices are expected to increase by close on 3.1 cents per litre this Thursday while, heating and stove oils are set to drop by 35/100ths of a cent. Diesel prices are also showing a modest drop of close on 6/10ths of a cent per litre. Gasoline prices dropped last week almost 4.8 cents as a result of the use of the interrupter formula.

“I’m not alarmed by this increase as it is coming as a result of a number of other factors. A surprise draw on inventory coupled with a drop in refiner capacity as a result of service shut-downs helped the spike in gasoline pricing this week. Even though price was lower, there still remains a huge inventory build that has to be dented before we see any significant increases to consumer prices on the way. The big unknown here however is: How long will the recovery last and is it artificial? Are we going to see another economic collapse as a result of higher interest rates that could curtail spending?”


For more information, contact:

George Murphy
Group researcher/member
Consumer Group for Fair Gas prices

Monday, October 05, 2009

Letter to the Prime Minister
re: Marine Atlantic Fuel Surcharges

October 5, 2009
Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister
Government of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A2

Dear Prime Minister;

In June of 2009 I wrote to your office expressing some concerns as regards to the placement of fuel surcharges on the Marine Atlantic ferry route between Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia. At the time, fuel surcharges of almost six per cent was placed on the movement of goods and services across the Gulf of St. Lawrence that was meant to recover the added costs of marine based fuels necessary as a result of increasing prices. My concern at the time was that there would be an added inflation rate placed on any goods and services coming into the province, or on exports leaving the province bound for mainland destinations. This issue still has not been addressed.

The concern is still there and it has now resulted in another increase coming to Marine Atlantic ferry users of an additional 7.8 per cent to be placed on ferry usage starting on October 26, 2009. Total surcharges have now escaladed to almost fourteen percentage points on goods and services both coming and leaving Newfoundland and Labrador. As of today’s release from Marine Atlantic, there is still no input by the Federal Government to have Marine Atlantic’s problems with fuel purchase prices being passed to consumers and business here.

While it may be true that energy costs are based on what happens on the open trading markets, I believe that the addition of fuel surcharges can be readily addressed on the part of the federal government by adding additional funds, as needed, to the budget of Marine Atlantic on a quarterly basis to help prevent any added increases in prices to consumers or businesses in Newfoundland and Labrador. While the automotive industry can avail of federal government investiture of funds to help support business in both Ontario and Quebec and consumers see the benefit of that, consumers here, as well as business, are now susceptible to an added and artificial cost to goods and services that help keep our economy sustainable in this tough economic time.

The last thing consumers and business need here is an added cost to goods and services and what amounts to an “export tax” on goods and services to consumers on the mainland. Business here already faces tough choices with the recent economic downturn and now faces extra costs to keep goods, services and jobs going here in the province.

While the federal government has chosen to allow Marine Atlantic to run itself as a separate entity, sometimes this “corporation “ has the responsibility, as does the federal government, in aiding economic stimulus wherever and whenever it can. In this, the federal government has a choice by either leaving us susceptible to extra pricing pressures or it can alleviate and participate in our economic recovery in Newfoundland and Labrador by adding additional funds to the Marine Atlantic budget by covering off the additional costs to Marine Atlantic as a result of added fuel pricing pressures. While the cost of fuel has added pricing pressure amounting to an added 3.8 million dollars for the next quarter, it seems miniscule compared to the massive 10.7 billion to the automotive industries of Ontario and Quebec.

I hope to persuade the government to do the latter and absorb the extra costs, thusly preventing the necessary increase in prices to consumers and business immediately before the important Christmas season. Again, I am asking you to consider this move to show the federal governments participation in the recovery of the Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Canadian economy.

Yours sincerely,

George Murphy
Group researcher/Member
Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices
Marine Atlantic increases fuel surcharge

They did what was predicted, only they done a heck of a lot more.

My numbers at the start of the month showed a possibility that Marine Atlantic would increase its rates by close on three percentage points. However, today Marine Atlantic announced that it will increase its fuel surcharge from the six per cent rate to a whopping 13.8 per cent, an increase that more than doubles the surcharge on ferry rates.

While the increase may be justified, it's who has to pay for it that doesn't suit well with anyone in Newfoundland and Labrador. An extra hunk of cash from any business in this province in the wake of recession doesn't bode well, especially knowing surcharges will increase as early as October 26th this year.

Again, we're faced with an increase in the artificially placed inflation rate on any goods coming into the province and again, we have to deal with increased costs of exporting from this province, not to mention increases in consumer prices leading up to Christmas.

I'm of the thinking we need a concrete solution to this problem of extra fuel costs to a government run service that was guaranteed with confederation and it's terms of union. Why is it that the federal government is taking a hands off approach to this when they have acted to pour millions into the mainland automotive industry? Why does the government not put extra money into Marine Atlantic just to offset the rising costs of marine diesel fuels?

It would be the Federal Government equivalent of supporting the Atlantic Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador economy by doing so, the same as they've supported the auto industry in Ontario.

I just think it's due time the Prime Minister's office dealt with the matter rather than make it a "self sustaining" marine operation.

Oh well. Time to write the Prime Minister's office again!