Gas War: High prices in Lethbridge driving some Albertans to fill up elsewhere

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Gas prices in Lethbridge soared in early July, and haven’t come down since.

But it’s an especially centralized issue these days, when driving just 20 to 30 minute east of the city can save you upwards of $0.20 per litre.

“For my vehicle for instance, it’s about 75 litres,” said Taber resident Matthew Blair. “Seventy-five litres at $0.20 a litre — that’s, you know, five bucks worth of savings. That goes a long way down the road.”

“If you look at Taber, many stations there are selling for a $1.17-$1.15,” said Dan McTeague, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy. “They’re selling gas for below cost, so that’s largely a gas war thing.”

It’s a war started by the industry’s biggest players.

“Loblaws, Supercentre or COSTCO, those are not gas stations they are multi service, multi offerings for their consumers,” said McTeague. “So if I look today it’s at $1.139 [at] the COSTCO in Medicine Hat. I would have to conclude that their gasoline is sold below cost in which other items are used to cross subsidize that loss.”

But that war isn’t extending to Lethbridge.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Lethbridge prices were higher than centres like Calgary, Medicine Hat and Taber.

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Larger cities like Calgary usually have significantly lower gas prices compared to their smaller neighbours, but that is not the case right now, with some Lethbridge residents even choosing to fuel up in Taber.

“Lethbridge is like, it was $1.36 on the west side this morning,” said Heidi Reinke. “So it’s ridiculous, like it’s really hard.”

McTeague says all gas stations pay within three cents of each other to buy fuel, with most buying their gasoline for $1.20 to a $1.23 a litre.

There’s no telling when this southern Alberta gas war will end, but there is good news for drivers. McTeague says the upcoming winter driving season should eventually lower pump prices across western Canada.

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