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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Not long in from the campaign, so sorry this is being posted at midnight tonight. Please forgive me!

Markets more volatile than ever!

Consumers catch a break- At least this week

Media release

Conception Bay South, NL, September 27, 2011- Consumers in Newfoundland and Labrador will catch another small break at the pumps, although market volatility is planting doubt on how long drops will last. That news comes from George Murphy, group researcher with the Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices.

“I can’t remember another time when the European Union financial situation has caused this much fluctuation in oil prices, but that and lingering concerns over the possibility of another recession has the markets in turmoil. There simply is no accounting for it in my numbers even. Markets are that much in a state of flux that they’re into collapse one minute and recovery the next.” Murphy cautioned.

“In the meantime, my numbers show heating and stove oils to drop by 1.12 cents a litre and diesel to drop by just 9/10ths of a cent. Gasoline shows a downwards turn of 2.3 cents a litre based on the market activity for the past seven days. These numbers may have been more substantial than they are except for the almost four cent drop against the US greenback.”

“Inventory reports out of the United States Energy Information Administration may tell the future of prices for the next few weeks when the report is released tomorrow afternoon. Any build in gasoline inventories may be a warning that consumers and business alike are starting to curtail spending, particularly for transportation fuels and that demand is petering out. We could be in a transition into recession if that is the case.”


For more information, contact;

George Murphy

Group researcher/Member

Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices

Thursday, September 22, 2011

“Tax off tax” explained

I know there’s some confusion out there, so I figured I’d send along a little explanation of the NDP proposal.

Let's say the basic price of gas on the New York exchange was 70 cents a litre. You then add 10 cents federal excise and 16.5 cents provincial road taxes to that. Total here is 96.5 cents a litre, right?


Now we add the HST, which is made up of 8% provincial plus 5% federal taxes (13%)

The problem we found here, and the Canadian taxpayers Association did also, is that the province charges their cut of the HST on the 96.5 cents, which is taxes on the basic cost of gas already.

The NDP proposal would adjust the formula used to just calculate the HST on the base product price of 70 cents, and not the 96.5 cents.

Based on the province estimates of raising 173.3 million in gas taxes this year, the NDP move would bring the total gas tax collected to amount close to $140 million or so, almost back to 2004 levels I think.

Everyone in the province recognizes the need for taxes. It's not dropping any part of the HST or it's gas tax component. It is simply adjusting how the tax is applied, and that makes it more fair for consumers here.

If you live in another province, you might want to check and see how the tax is applied in your jurisdiction.

The Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices always included the word “Fair” in its title, and it’s only right that the government should be playing fair with consumers too.

Sometimes it’s not all the fault of “Big Oil”. Sometimes a government has culpability in high prices to consumers too.

Hope this helps!

Please pass this on so everyone has a clear understanding!

On a secondary note...

I think everyone here also knows that I am running to be the next Member of the House of Assembly for St. John's East in the October 11th general election. I have had a couple of you dropping emails on where to send a donation, and I'm grateful for your thoughtfulness on this. They are kindly accepted.


George Murphy

Group researcher/Member

Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sorry I'm so late!
Out on the door-steps all week!

Consumers to catch a small break

Winter heating projection out

Media release

Conception Bay South, NL, September 20, 2011- Consumers should see no real increases in heating oil prices this winter, if the world financial and geo-political situations stay as they are. That’s from George Murphy, group researcher with the Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices.

Winter heating projection

‘There are some factors that are playing well into the picture being formed on heating oil prices. Evidence is slowly mounting that tells me there is no room for any increase in prices, simply based on world economic, consumer and financial factors”, said Murphy.

“While investors and OPEC members are waiting for word of a possible drop in world demand based on the European Union member country’s ability to deal with debt problems and the fact that the US could possibly be entering a recessionary period. If that is the case, then it looks like there’s no reason to see heating oil prices increase beyond where they are now, barring any other outside factors. Continuing builds of distillate inventories should hopefully insulate consumers from any added increases in price at least until December month. What we see right now, essentially, is what we’ll get, but there is room for prices to drop back, if economic factors from Europe and the US come into play.”

“we’re also dealing with prices that are robbing consumers of disposable income. Prices are really high as they are now with consumers having trouble paying the prices as they are. That itself is a factor in inventory building, as consumers will only buy as much as they need to get by, and not as much as they need to be totally comfortable. Prices need to drop for all fuels in order for everyone’s economic situation to improve.”

“The other clue that there shouldn’t be any upswing in prices comes strangely from OPEC members Libya and Saudi Arabia. Both countries are calling for world oil prices to remain stable between $80 and $100 US a barrel. Generally, what the Saudis say is paid a lot of attention by oil market profiteers, and with a new government in Libya being seen as more moderate, you can bet that they’ll have some influence as well on oil prices and what consumers will pay for the immediate future.”

“Don’t get me wrong. There are still going to be people out there that will still need to fall back on rebate programs, but the news here is that the rebate programs are still in place along with the removal of the provincial portion of the HST. We’re just going to have to start working on the federal government for the removal of federal taxes on heat now. It could be a longer road to get there, but not insurmountable.”

Numbers are in.

Here’s what I have for this Thursday’s price change:

· Heating and stove oils show down by 79/100ths.

· Diesel is down by a penny, and…

· Gasoline is also showing down, but by 2.7 cents a litre.

Market Notes

· OPEC member nation Libya is again exporting oil onto the world markets. Numbers show the country has exported a rough 160,000 barrels a day in the last month as the war-torn country strives to revive its oil industry. It is not known when the country will again achieve its original OPEC quota of 1.5 million barrels a day.

· Also from Libya, the country’s National Transitional Council (NTC) will try and arrange an increase in quota from OPEC as the country tries to recover from war. The Libyan NTC is also looking at oil prices sustained around the same mark the Saudi Arabian government is looking for; prices between $80 and $100 US a barrel. OPEC will meet to discuss the Libyan request in a December meeting in Vienna.

· Oil is still trading between $80 and $90 US a barrel as the European Union financial situation, namely from member countries like Italy and Greece, both play a role in future demand for oil. It’s thought that austerity programming and a possible world economic slowdown will stymie demand for oil products. It seems the markets are in a “wait and see” pattern as investors are waiting for proof that the worst is behind us, and that hasn’t happened yet.

That’s it for now!


George Murphy

Group researcher/member

Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bloggers Choice Awards

I'm so honoured!

Got a little note that tells me that the blog has been nominated in the Travel/Business category for the Blogger's Choice Awards!

You can vote and leave a comment here.

Can't believe it. I'm beside myself, as they say.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Markets on hold?

Hi to all…

The numbers are in, but there’s a lot of market volatility in them.

Heating and stove oils show a slight increase of 26/100ths, diesel is up by 1/10th and gasoline shows a downwards move by 2.1 cents for this coming Thursday.

I will caution everyone, however, coming from the last few weeks where market volatility has thrown my numbers off-kilter over the term. My numbers are different from those of the Public Utilities Board are different than mine. They are mandated by the petroleum Pricing Act to use Platt’s as their service.

Their numbers may therefore, be different than my own.


  • · The world financial crisis is again entering the picture with financial markets in turmoil as the possibility of a Greek default on its debt is again coming to bear. Also, the country of Italy’s debt is now becoming a factor.
  • · The American Petroleum Institute is finding a build in gasoline inventories this week, as demand concerns have again entered the picture in the US.

That’s it for this week!


George Murphy

Group researcher/Member

Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Meeting with the PUB

Not long out of the meeting with the Public Utilities Board.

The meeting
That meeting was centered on the fact of the disparity between the numbers I have versus the numbers that the PUB uses in their operations. Keeping in mind that they are mandated under the petroleum pricing Act, they have no other choice but to use an industry standard that gives them historical accuracy in figuring out their numbers. Their numbers are exactly that: the numbers that are also used in other jurisdictions like Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

In this case, they are mandated to use a subscription service provided by Platt's Oilgram, who have been at this sort of thing for years, and at a substantial cost to the Board.

In looking at their numbers, I was convinced that they had right information, based on what they use, and I have no choice but to concede to the point that their information is accurate and supported.

Mine however, while they are free, are probably subject to some error and another reason why I always have a margin for error. Theirs doesn't, unless Platt's publishes wrong, and then they make the correction to that, and it's applied back in figuring out numbers to the consumer. Compared to that, mine are a "rough call" in what actually happens from week to week.

I still stand by them for the work they do, in spite of what I said on a local call-in show the other day. I was wrong when I connected them to "Big Oil" and I retract that comment. They're a great bunch down there that do good work, and I owe them better than what I took as grab by "Big Oil." They're no way connected. Again, they only do what's mandated under the Act.

Did "Big Oil" have any influence on the numbers in the markets that week? I don't know, but I think we all know now that when it comes to my numbers, the investors played hard and fast, so much so that my numbers this week would have showed a close on five cent a litre increase to the consumers out there for gasoline, a net 4.6 or so over the past two weeks. They didn't show as greatly in their numbers.

Their numbers showed an upwards movement by 3.7 cents or so.

Now we all know why I like the work of the Board, and why I still stand by regulation. I'm sorry I ever thought or spoke a bad word about them. This week, they proved their worth.

As I've said before, in this case there's just no way I can account for all the market volatility. In my case as well, I'll have to start a new search for more accurate info.

Regards to all,

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

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Numbers are in

First things first...

I'm waiting on a call from the Public Utilities Board on a yet to be scheduled meeting centered around what transpired with my numbers and what they had in last week's price change. I still say that numbers should have retreated and then this weeks should have seen the adjustments for the markets in the week following.

Either way, they didn't jive...

Here's what I have for this week, with all the numbers in:
  • Heating and stove oils are down by 24/100ths of a cent.
  • Diesel numbers show no change, and
  • Gasoline: I want to reserve what I have here in the hope that the numbers will come back on track. I will say however, that they show "up".
I want to see what they're going to do this time. I hope you all understand, at least this time around!


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

PS: After publishing this notice, I received a note from the PUB with a notice of a meeting with them for this Thursday afternoon.
Work in progress
You may note some changes

Welcome to the new layout!

I'm not finished yet, and there are a few more things I want to add, but please let me know what you all think of the new look, or if there's something you'd like to see added to the blog, drop me a note.

I'll be back later tonight with a breakdown of the numbers, baring in mind that I will be holding off on my gasoline prediction as a result of what happened with the synopsis last week. I want to see if things are "going to come up even" before I start in again.



Thursday, September 01, 2011

What happened?
I simply don't know...Yet

Hi to all…

I simply don’t have the numbers here to justify this increase to consumers, plain and simple.Prices that consumers were paying last week were set on the basis of a base price of 73.25 cents a litre, based on my numbers.

For the past week, (this week’s price setting) the numbers averaged 72.89 cents a litre, a drop of 4/10ths when you also account for taxes.

Here’s the numbers for what I had this past week for your reference:

· August 24th: 74.51 /Litre

· August 25th: 72.40 /Litre

· August 26th : 71.87/Litre

· August 27th: 71.87/ Litre

· August 28th: 71.87/Litre

· August 29th: 70.91/Litre

· August 30th: 76.86/Litre

It is only during the day of August 30th that there was any kind of upwards movement. That was simply because of the effects of Hurricane Irene, which investors used as an excuse for bumping up spot prices on the NYMEX. There is simply no justification to this move upwards in prices this week. One refinery closed as a precaution and there was no major damage to any oil company infrastructure. The refinery that closed, closed voluntarily as a precaution and two others reduced production during the storm.

Based on that last days number for the 30th, I was making initial projections that consumers would be possibly taking a hit next week for the continuation of gasoline trading high for this adjustment period for the next price change, as the trend has been set.

On first appearance, the PUB has raised prices for Big Oil to account for a “supply disruption” as they attempt to protect Big Oil’s monetary losses for this price change. It appears that they’re trying to insulate Big Oil from taking any monetary losses for this week when, they have done consumers a dis-service.

If there is, I don’t have it and the people of the province needs an explanation of the methodology used by the Public Utilities Board in setting prices this week.

I’m calling for the immediate appointment of a consumer advocate to protect the consumers interests in the setting of prices. I’ve been doing this for fourteen years now, watching the markets and the PUB setting prices, and, as far as I’m concerned, the evidence shows otherwise when it comes to what consumers should have received at the pumps this morning.

Frankly, I’m disgusted. I’m sticking by my numbers…


George Murphy

Group researcher/Member