One fact many Portagers will remember from last year is that people were paying more at the pump than ever before.
Patrick De Haan of GasBuddy.com says the Manitoba average peaked on June 16th at 205.6 cents per litre. He says it was probably due to the lack of refining capacity as Canadians and Americans got out more and more as the pandemic eased substantially.
"The problem though, is that refining capacity, which had plummeted because of COVID related shutdowns, has not bounced back, and so, that imbalance caused gas prices to soar in Manitoba beyond the $2.00 a litre mark far into record territory," says De Haan. "The good news is, to close out the year, we're seeing prices that, while they're still high, they've come down over $0.55 a litre from the highs with average prices now in the province at about $1.47 a litre."
Looking at the entire year, De Haan expects the average for 2023 will be lower than it was last year.
"I think we're slowly moving towards a time of balancing the massive imbalances that we've seen," says De Haan. "Of course, Russia's invasion of Ukraine remains active, and that is certainly a factor, with Russia being the third largest oil producer globally. That still, is a factor, in why prices haven't gone back down to say pre-COVID levels because there still are issues, not only with oil production. A lot of this is still occurring because of refinery shutdowns due to COVID."
De Haan adds, if you were to look back at a record book, there should be an asterisk next to 2020. Many refineries in Canada and the U.S. had shut down permanently and De Haan believes the balance between supply and demand has changed moving forward. He thinks it'll take years before it can balance itself out and refining capacity can rebound.