Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Refineries need work, so gas prices jump

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PRICES at the pumps shot up overnight Thursday in Winnipeg by seven cents, then dropped, then shot up again.

What's going on?

Jason Toews, co-founder of Gasbuddy.com, a website that monitors gas prices in Canada, said this is the time of the year refineries undergo maintenance, which puts a cramp on supply and a squeeze on consumers.

This year, Winnipeg seems to be leading the trend, at least this week. Other locations such as Ontario saw prices drop at the pumps.

"This is the time of the year we see gas prices go up all over the country. It's all based on supply and demand," Toews said.

In the meantime, wise consumers can still surf the web for pumps that give them a break.

If people are travelling, they can save quite a bit of money just by knowing where to look.

The average pump price was 123.9 cents in Winnipeg Friday. But some gas stations, such as the Tempo at 1488 Inkster Blvd. posted a pump price nearly 10 cents lower Friday afternoon: 114.9 cents a litre.

Friday's prices spiked overnight in Winnipeg from the average 116.9 and then dropped back down. By mid-afternoon, most stations posted a price of 123.9.

The rule of thumb in Winnipeg is First Nations-run gas stations post lower prices, even without the discount available to treaty-status cardholders.

Costco runs a couple of gas stations where gas prices are generally lower, although on Friday the price was no different from Shell, Co-op, Domo, Petro-Canada and Esso, according to GasBuddy.com.

That said, Safeway offers a standard discount to club cardholders that may blunt the bite on the wallet.

As for the weekend, refineries can go off-line for maintenance for weeks on end this time of year, so don't expect a break any time soon.

For comparison, a year ago, gas prices in Winnipeg averaged 110.7 cents a litre.

And in contrast to the rest of Canada, Winnipeg nearly always gets a break, with prices 10 to 14 cents lower.

The average price across Canada Friday was 129.4 a litre, according to GasBuddy.com.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 2, 2013 A8

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