New regulations targeting the wholesale gasoline market will come into effect in British Columbia on Friday after an independent investigation discovered drivers in the province were being charged almost half a billion dollars in unexplainable costs every year.
“For years, British Columbians have felt like they are getting gouged when they fill up at the pump,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. Ralston said the NDP government asked its independent energy watchdog to do an investigation into gas prices.
The British Columbia Utilities Commission’s (BCUC) inquiry “found a lack of competition and significant markups in the B.C. market, including a 13 cent per-litre premium being charged to drivers that industry was unable to explain,” said Ralston.
Ralston says the premium has cost drivers an extra $490 million per year.
Beginning on Friday, companies that import, purchase, store and distribute gasoline and diesel products intended for sale at retail stations will need to make regular reports starting for the month of October to the BCUC. Under the new regulations, these companies will have to offer detailed information on fuel imports, storage capacity, bulk sales and wholesale prices.
“We know that from the BCUC’s investigation into gas prices that four companies control around 90 per cent of the wholesale market in southern B.C.,” Ralston said. “By pulling back the curtain, the action we are taking today will help ensure industry is held publicly accountable for unexplained markups and prices increases.”
In the fall of 2019, the BC government brought in new mandatory reporting requirements for the wholesale gasoline market using the Fuel Price Transparency Act.
Last March, the British Columbia Utilities Commission was named as the independent administrator of the FPTA and given the power to collect and publish data on fuel pricing in order to promote competition in the market. The BCUC has launched a website to provide the public with information about the factors that influence fuel gas prices.
According to a press release from the BC government, further regulations are being developed for the other parts of the fuel supply chain, including the retail market.