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Competition Bureau finds no collusion in gas pricing in NW Ontario

Thunder Bay prices remain among the highest.

OTTAWA — As gasoline prices hover near record levels in Thunder Bay, the federal Competition Bureau announced that its investigation into gas prices in northwestern Ontario has turned up no evidence of collusion in the fuel industry.

The agency launched a probe into regional gas pricing in December 2018 at the instigation of Kenora-Rainy River MPP Greg Rickford.

At the time, Rickford said motorists all across the region wanted to know why prices in the northwest are frequently out of line with other parts of the province and country.

The Competition Bureau says its officers travelled to the region and conducted field interviews at 50 gas stations in Thunder Bay, Dryden, Fort Frances and Kenora.

The investigation also included the collection and analysis of pricing data from various sources, and a study of regional market characteristics such as whole gasoline supply and distribution. 

"Throughout this investigation, the Bureau did not uncover evidence of anticompetitive agreements among competitors in the wholesale or retail gasoline markets," the agency stated.

Petroleum analyst Dan McTeague of has previously noted a disparity in the retail margin for gas, the gap between wholesale and pump prices.

He said that in Thunder Bay the margin is about 24 cents a litre, double what he described as the industry standard.

"People in northwestern Ontario are paying more in general, and their retail margins are almost double," McTeague said.

The most likely explanation, he theorized, is a lack of competition in the local market.

"In other cities, you see big retailers such as Costco who will attack margins, and drive them down. But if nobody wants to drop their margin it will stay as-is."

On Wednesday morning, according to Gas Buddy, most Thunder Bay gas bars were charging 1.469 per litre, considerably higher than many other northern centres:

  • Thunder Bay $1.469
  • Dryden  $1.289
  • Kenora  $1.349
  • Sault Ste. Marie $1.369
  • Timmins $1.439

Prices on the Fort William First Nation hovered around $1.27 per litre.

It's believed that the record high for Thunder Bay prices was established in 2008 at $1.484.




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Gary Rinne

About the Author: Gary Rinne

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Gary started part-time at Tbnewswatch in 2016 after retiring from the CBC
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