FAQ

Answers to your most frequently asked questions

You have questions and we have answers on topics such as the Fuel Price Transparency Act, what data will be collected from companies, our findings in the gasoline and diesel prices inquiry and much more. The website will be continually updated based on what you, as British Columbians, want to know. To send us your feedback or questions, fill out the Feedback Form.

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Gasoline & Diesel Inquiry

  • Yes. On May 21, 2019, the BC government directed the BCUC to explore factors that may be influencing gasoline and diesel prices in BC since 2015 and to provide advice to the government on the price of wholesale and retail gasoline and diesel in BC.
  • The BC government outlined the scope and terms of reference for the Gasoline and Diesel Prices Inquiry by Order in Council No. 254.
  • More information about the BCUC's Inquiry into fuel prices in BC is available on the Before the Act page.
  • The BCUC conducted an independent, transparent and public process for the Inquiry into Gasoline and Diesel Prices in BC. Some of the items the BCUC explored are:
    • the differences, in refining and retail margins compared to other jurisdictions in Canada;
    • factors that contribute to both retail and wholesale price fluctuations such as access of refineries in BC to crude oil, the amount of fuel in storage, refinery usage and pipeline capacity, market size and demand, distribution methods and seasonal variations;
    • how competition impacts pricing;
    • what other jurisdictions are doing to enhance fuel price transparency; and
    • mechanisms the province could use to moderate gasoline and diesel price fluctuations and increases.
  • A video summarizing the key findings from the BCUC's Inquiry is available here.
  • The Panel considered evidence filed by 11 registered interveners, including all major companies that have refining, wholesaling and retail business in BC, 73 letters of comment from the public and interested parties, and three reports prepared by two independent consultants.
  • The inquiry included four days of Oral Workshops where the Panel asked questions of Interveners and Interveners asked questions of the independent consultants.
  • Following the comprehensive inquiry process, some of the Panel's key findings were:
    • there is a significant unexplained difference of at least 13 cents per litre in wholesale gasoline prices between Southern BC and the Seattle spot price, its Pacific Northwest cost comparator;
    • the wholesale market for gasoline in BC is not truly competitive with high market concentration levels, high barriers to entry, and its ability to influence prices. Retail market prices also have the potential to be controlled by five refiner-marketers;
    • there is no evidence to suggest that there is collusion among the retail operators nor is there evidence of cartel behaviour; and
    • regulation could potentially reduce the wholesale and/or retail margins but may have the potential for unintended consequences. However, further investigation is required if such an approach is to be considered.
    • A video summarizing the key findings from the BCUC's Inquiry is available on the Before the Act page.
  • In its Final Report to the BC government, the BCUC recommended allowing Industry participants a 30-day period to comment on the report. The BC government accepted the BCUC's recommendation and provided 30 days for comments on the Final Report.
  • The Panel received submissions from five interveners and 41 additional letters of comment from the public. The BCUC provided a Supplementary Report after the close of the comment period, summarizing the comments received.
  • Based on the submissions received, the Panel concluded there was no concrete evidence to definitively adjust the unexplained 13 cents per litre (cpl) difference stated in the Final Report. The Panel's best estimate is that the unexplained difference could potentially range from 10 cpl to the originally reported 13 cpl.
  • The result is that consumers paid at least $490 million dollars more per year, than expected. This is on top of margin that already exists between the PNW price and fuel that has been sourced at a lower price, which is the majority of fuel sold in BC.
  • Yes. Taxes make up a specific amount of the retail gasoline price. It is important to note that tax information is publicly available and accounts for a portion of the known difference in price between BC and other parts of Canada. The scope of the Inquiry explored the factors that were not already publicly known and may be contributing to a price discrepancy.
  • Our report concluded:
    • there is a significant unexplained difference of at least approximately 13 cents per litre in gasoline prices between Southern BC and the Seattle spot price, the closest local comparator and the price on which the wholesalers stated they based BC wholesale prices; and
    • the wholesale market for gasoline in BC is not truly competitive but rather it is controlled by five parties.
  • A video summarizing the key findings from the BCUC's Inquiry is available on the Before the Act page.
  • The Inquiry Final Report provided the BC government with options regarding possible regulation. Ultimately, it is up to the government to determine whether regulation is appropriate.
  • The BCUC submitted its Inquiry Report and Supplementary Report to the BC government. Collectively, the reports provided insights into how the BC gasoline and diesel industry could improve its transparency by providing a common set of facts to the public regarding price setting mechanisms and how they impact prices consumers pay at the pumps.
  • In response to the BCUC's reports, the BC government created the Fuel Price Transparency Act and designated the BCUC as the Administrator.
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FPT Act

  • Bill 42 – The Fuel Price Transparency Act (FPT Act) was introduced in the BC Legislature on Nov. 18, 2019. The FTP Act requires companies in BC to report information and data on their activities in the gasoline and diesel fuel market in the province. Bill 42 received Royal Assent and became law on Nov. 27, 2019.
  • Per Part 2, Section 3, of the FPT Act, the BC government may designate a person to administer the FPT Act and restrict or impose conditions on the exercise of powers, or the performance of duties, under this FPT Act by the Administrator.
  • The BCUC was named the Administrator of the FPT Act on March 9, 2020.
  • As outlined by the FPT Act, a regular schedule of reporting on the gasoline and diesel market will be established. The fuel data that will be collected relates to processing, refining, storing, transporting, marketing, or supplying the reportable fuel.
  • The BC government is working with the BCUC to determine the exact information required and the frequency of reporting.
  • The FPT Act also sets rules for audits and inspections to ensure that the data being reported is complete and accurate.
  • The BCUC will publish fuel pricing data if it is satisfied that protected information will not be disclosed, or that the public interest outweighs any potential harm of releasing the protected data (as per Section 9(2) of the FPT Act).
  • Protected information means information that reveals trade secrets, or commercial, financial, labour relations, scientific or technical information (as per Section 9(2) of the FPT Act).
  • The BCUC will take into regard the competitiveness of the market for reportable fuels and public confidence in the competitiveness of that market.
  • The BC government determined who the Administrator for the FPT Act should be.
  • The BCUC is an experienced economic regulator in the energy and utility sector and recently conducted the Gasoline and Diesel Price Inquiry and reported its findings to the BC government.
  • The mandate of the BCUC will expand to include the responsibilities of administering the FPT Act. This includes collecting data and information regarding gasoline and diesel fuel activities in BC to promote competitiveness of the market and public confidence in the competitiveness of that market.
  • The BCUC will continue to follow its mandate; ensuring the public receives safe, reliable energy services and fair rates, by regulating BC's energy utilities, Basic automobile insurance, intra-provincial pipelines, and the reliability of the electrical transmission grid.
  • The BC government states in their press release that, "[t]he release of information under the FPTA will encourage the competitiveness of the market in British Columbia and give the public confidence that the market is working fairly".
  • Part 4, Division 2, Section 12 of the FPT Act lays out the Administrative Penalties that can be applied if the FPT Act is not adhered to.
  • Part 4, Division 2, Section 12 of the FPT Act lays out the Administrative Penalties that can be applied by the Administrator of the FPT Act, if the FPT Act is not adhered to.
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BCUC's Role

  • Under the Utilities Commission Act (UCA), the BCUC is an independent agency of the BC government that regulates:
    • BC's energy utilities, including BC Hydro and FortisBC;
    • the Insurance Corporation of BC's Basic auto insurance;
    • intra-provincial pipelines;
    • the reliability of the electrical transmission grid.
  • We balance the interests of customers with the interests of the business we regulate under the UCA. The BCUC carries out fair and transparent reviews of matters within its jurisdiction and considers public input where public interest is impacted.
  • The BCUC is governed by the UCA and has specific responsibilities under the Administrative Tribunals Act and the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. We consider all relevant legislation and regulations, as well as government policies and the business environment of regulated companies.
  • The BCUC is the Administrator of the Fuel Price Transparency Act (FPT Act). The Administrator will:
    • Promote the competitiveness of the market for reportable fuels;
    • Promote public confidence in the competitiveness of that market;
    • Administer provisions of the FPT Act in accordance with any general or special directions of the minister;
    • Report to the minister as required; and
    • Publish the data received from companies on the market conditions involved with setting fuel prices in BC.
  • As the Administrator of the FPT Act, the BCUC will collect and regularly publish data on the market conditions that are involved with setting fuel prices in BC. The duties of the Administrator, as set out in the FPT Act, do not involve regulating fuel prices in BC.
  • The purpose of the FPT Act and the BCUC's role is to improve transparency with respect to fuel pricing in BC. This new GasPricesBC.ca website is a resource to provide more information to the public about factors that could be influencing fuel prices over time.
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Gas Prices BC Website

  • As the Administrator of the FPT Act, the BCUC created the GasPricesBC.ca website to provide the public with more information about what factors are influencing fuel prices in BC.
  • The data on the website will may also be used to inform the BC government if policy changes need to be made in order to address fuel competitiveness in BC.
  • The GasPricesBC.ca website includes:
    • Publicly available data on the makeup of gas prices in BC, as well as information about how gas prices have changed over time, and how gas prices in one city compare to other cities across BC and Canada.
    • A series of dashboards and graphics to help the public learn more about the components influencing fuel prices in BC.
  • Changes and improvements will be made to the website over time, and the amount of data available on the website will increase as data submissions are made by companies.
  • Tell the BCUC what information you would like to see on GasPricesBC.ca, by filling out the Feedback Form.
  • The BCUC will publish fuel pricing data if it is satisfied that protected information will not be disclosed, or that the public interest outweighs any potential harm of releasing the protected data (as per Section 9(2) of the FPT Act).
  • The BCUC will take into regard the competitiveness of the market for reportable fuels and public confidence in the competitiveness of that market.
  • Price data presented in our dashboards is sourced from The Kent Group Ltd. (Kent) and Oil Price Information Services (OPIS). Kent collects its data at a set time each day, it does not take into account price fluctuations that may occur throughout the day. Data collected from Kent is publicly available on their website. OPIS collects data multiple times throughout the course of each day.
  • The BCUC’s Gasoline and Diesel Prices Inquiry Report identified that the practice of canvassing the retail fuel prices at a specific time each morning may not reflect the price most fuel volume is being sold each day. We are exploring other potential data sources, such as using price data that has been collected multiple times a day.
  • The general information concerning the fuel market was gathered from the BCUC’s Gasoline and Diesel Prices Inquiry Report.
  • Eventually, data posted on the website will also include data that the BCUC collects from companies, pursuant to the FPT Act.
  • Price data sourced from The Kent Group Ltd. is publicly available information. Based on the information we received through the BCUC Gasoline and Diesel Prices Inquiry, the data collected from Kent is the most readily available public data to approximate fuel pricing.
  • As our role of Administrator is developed through regulation, and as the GasPricesBC.ca matures we welcome and encourage industry participants to assist in compiling and disclosing enhanced data that is more representative of fuel prices in BC.
  • GasPricesBC.ca is available to anyone who has an interest in understanding how gas prices in BC are set, particularly the general public.
  • The intention is to publish analysis based on the information received, or as required by the minister under the FPT Act.
  • The GasPricesBC.ca website is different from existing sites; it provides historical information about the components that influence gas prices in BC. It includes details about fuel pricing and focuses on the trends and factors that influence fuel prices over time. It is focused on BC pricing and the factors that make it unique compared to other jurisdictions in Canada and the Pacific Northwest.
  • At this stage, data from The Kent Group Ltd. and Oil Price Information Services, is being used. The website's content will be updated with the companies reported data, where possible, as part of the FPT Act.
  • The GasPricesBC.ca website will be updated regularly as new data becomes available. Improvements and additions will be made as feedback is collected from the public and additional data as ordered by the FPT Act.
  • Price data presented in our dashboards is sourced from The Kent Group Ltd. (Kent) and Oil Price Information Services (OPIS). Kent collects its data at a set time each day, it does not take into account price fluctuations that may occur throughout the day. Data collected from Kent is publicly available on their website. OPIS collects data multiple times throughout the course of each day.
  • On the Price Factors page, the third dashboard shows trends in the fuel market in BC. The BCUC has not been tasked with analyzing the data to understand what influenced fluctuations in price, however, the following are examples that may have impacted prices:
    • 2014 – Edmonton refinery turnaround
    • 2015 – US Union Strike, ExxonMobil refinery fire, Washington refinery shutdown, Alberta refinery malfunction
    • 2016 – Alberta wildfire near oil sands, Suncor refinery shutdown
    • 2017 – Washington refinery turnaround, hurricane affects PADD 3
    • 2018 – Burnaby refinery turnaround, Prince George pipeline fire
    • 2019 – California refinery shutdown, California wildfires near refineries, Metro Vancouver gas tax increases
  • Fuel has seasonal regulations that can impact the price of fuel. For example, summer gas contains different oxygenates which adds to its cost. However, these Government of Canada regulations have not changed since 2015 and are applicable across Canada.
  • Fuel – Diesel and all grades of gasoline for road use.
  • Crude Oil – the main input in gasoline, crude oil is naturally occurring, unrefined petroleum and a type of fossil fuel.
  • Wholesale Price – the price gas station owners or retailers pay for gasoline. This price references a rack price that is set by the wholesaler plus or minus a market factor.
  • Retail Price – the price customers pay for gasoline at gas stations.
  • Rack price – the price at which wholesalers sell gasoline to their various customers, including distributors and retailers. The posted price at terminals where refiners deliver refined petroleum product to retailers. Rack prices are generally based on prices set at the refinery gate or loading rack which are commonly referred to as “rack prices”. Each company sets its own rack price.
  • Retail Margin – the BC government has defined retail margin as, “the difference between the amount a retailer pays for gas and diesel and the amount the retailer charges its customers for gas and diesel, excluding taxes” (OIC 254/2019).
  • Refining Margin – the BC government has defined refining margin as, “the difference between the amount a refiner pays for crude oil and other components and the amount the refiner charges its wholesale customers for gas and diesel” (OIC 254/2019).
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Public/Stakeholder Role

  • The GasPricesBC.ca website does not have a signup feature for updates; however, the information will be updated regularly as data becomes available.
  • If you would like to have a subscription option added to this page, please let us know by requesting this in a Feedback Form or by contacting the BCUC via email, phone or mail.
  • To stay up to date with other BCUC activities, such as a specific proceeding, visit the Get Involved page on the BCUC's website to sign up as an Interested Party and receive email notifications on all non-confidential evidence presented in a proceeding
  • Yes. The BCUC wants to hear from you. If you have a question about how gas prices are set in BC, the factors that influence gas prices, or information you found on the GasPricesBC.ca website, please submit it by filling out the Feedback Form or by contacting the BCUC via email, phone or mail.
  • If the FAQ page has not answered your question, please submit it to the BCUC by filling out the Feedback Form.
  • The BCUC will reply to your question either directly via the contact information you provided, or by adding your question to the FAQ page.
  • To report an error or inaccuracy that has been made on the GasPricesBC.ca website, please fill out the Feedback Form with details on the error, including the section of the website it can be found.
  • Confidential information will be treated in accordance with the BCUC's Rules of Practice and Procedure (Rules) and as outlined by the Fuel Price Transparency Act (FPT Act).
  • A company or person engaged in reporting to the BCUC can request any information in a document be kept confidential. The request should follow the procedure outlined in Part IV of the Rules briefly describing the nature of the information in the document and the reasons for the request for confidentiality to the Administrator. In determining whether protected information may be published, the Administrator will take into account the considerations outlined in Section 9(2) of the FPT Act and Rule 20 of the Rules.
  • The frequency of reporting has not yet been determined. This information will be announced as soon as it is available.
  • The BC government is working with the BCUC to determine the exact information required and the frequency of reporting.