Gas prices soar to spring record up 14 cents from last year

CALGARY — A gasoline price spike is to be expected around this time of year as refineries prepare for the summer driving season, but there are some factors making this year’s pre-Victoria Day bump more painful than usual.The national average was above $1.37 per litre on Wednesday, according to price-tracking website GasBuddy.com — a big jump from last year’s $1.23.Some cities have it worse than others. In Montreal, for instance, prices spiked eight cents between Tuesday and Wednesday to nearly $1.53. Calgarians, meanwhile, enjoyed a relatively cheap $1.22.GasBuddy co-founder Jason Toews said the national average price has never been this high at this time of year — although it hasn’t surpassed the all time record of $1.42 in September 2008.“It’s largely due to the time of year. We’re in spring and on the edge of summer driving season. We always see prices going up around this time of year,” he said.As winter turns to spring, refineries go offline to tweak their equipment. In the winter, they produce more heating fuel, whereas in the summer, they ramp up their gasoline production.But this year hasn’t been typical, said John Kiemele, vice president and chief operating officer at En-Pro International, an Oshawa, Ont.-based firm that advises companies on their energy costs.This year’s extreme winter drew down supplies of heating fuel more than usual, causing refineries to keep running when they’d normally be taken offline, he said.“If they were to shut down the refinery and do maintenance and start to prepare more gasoline, they would have been in a real dilemma. They wouldn’t have had any supply. They needed to keep those refineries running and producing distillates to meet demand,” he said.“So that delayed process of building gasoline inventories for the driving season. That put gasoline inventories in a lower position than we would have liked and that has caused prices to go up.”THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz Another aggravating factor has been the lower loonie, Kiemele added.“Every time the dollar drops in value, you will see a rise in the price of fuel in Canada because we all deal in U.S. dollars when it comes to energy.”The good news is both Toews and Kiemele see prices mellowing out somewhat after the May long weekend.“All the gas stations are going to have summer fuel in their tanks and there won’t be any supply issues,” said Toews.Motorists are getting more accustomed to pricey fuel. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, drivers were outraged when prices hit $1 per litre.“It shocked people and it had a big impact on demand for gasoline,” Toews said.“But now a dollar per litre seems cheap. Our perception of what is cheap has changed dramatically.”The Canadian Press read more

New rare earths price increases increases initiated by supply limitations

first_imgRare Earths prices increased 12% over the Chinese May day holiday, according to Lynas Corp and its Mount Weld rare earths composition price passed through the $10/kg mark by jumping from $9.43/kg to $10.58/kg in one week. The company also noted that Baotou mixed rare earths carbonate production has been halted due to water issues and in Sichuan region, rare earths mining and concentrate production have been stopped by local government.In Baotou, Lynas understands the water issues relate to the Government authorities’ tighter supervision to protect the water system of the Yellow River from contamination associated with waste water discharge from local mixed rare earths carbonate plants. The mixed rare earths carbonate from Baotou is the feed for the majority of the rare earths separation plants in China. Lynas estimates that approximately 20,000 t/y of rare earth oxide (REO) may be affected by the shutdown.This supply constraint has been compounded by reports that the Sichuan rare earths regional production has been stopped by the local government due to industry restructuring issues within the region. Lynas understands that the local government had planned to consolidate the small mining and concentration operations into four groups within this region; however it appears this plan has stalled. The consequences appear to be a local government order to cease all production. Sichuan accounts for approximately 25,000 t/y of REO. The actual extent of the shutdown is not yet known and the duration of the shutdown is uncertain.last_img read more