Experts say shifting factors including wildfires in Alberta, a slowing economy and potential pressures on supply will all have an effect on gas prices as the long weekend heralds the start of the summer.
“This weekend is the kickoff for summer driving season in Canada,” said Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at SIA Wealth Management.
This period is usually characterized by higher demand for gas as people go on more road trips and take their motorcycles and sports carts out of hibernation, he said.
“It's not unusual to see gas prices go up and down around weekends, and especially long weekends.”
However, the price of crude has been drifting for a while, said Cieszynski, with concerns over demand while the economy muddles along in the face of higher interest rates.
“It boils down to a question of supply and demand," said Roger McKnight, chief petroleum analyst at En-Pro International.
"It's also a question of inflation and recession and how that's intimidating demand,” he said.
On the supply side, there are some pressures, said McKnight, with U.S. inventories down, especially for heating oil, jet fuel, and diesel fuel.
Demand for all types of gas, meanwhile, is up — especially for jet fuel, he said, indicating lots of interest in travelling outside the country.
“We have a situation here where supply is tight, and falling, demand is up and rising,” said McKnight.
That means prices will likely be higher for the next couple of months, perhaps cresting US$80, he said.
Anecdotally, prices at the pump have gone up ahead of the long weekend, said Brianne Gardner, senior wealth manager of Velocity Investment Partners at Raymond James Ltd.
Prices often jump up on big news, such as the fires currently ravaging parts of Alberta and forcing oil and gas companies to shut in production, said Gardner. The same thing happened in 2016 with Fort McMurray, though the current amount of oil being curtailed per day is significantly less than it was during that disaster, she said.
Canadian crude normally trades at a discount to West Texas Intermediate, but the gap is the tightest it’s been in a while due to the fires, Gardner said.
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