The economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused prices at the pump in Yellowknife to plummet as much as 23 cents in the last two weeks.
At the Esso Circle K, regular gas is now going for 1.05.4 per litre, down from 1.28 two weeks ago, station manager Sunny Singh told NNSL Media.
“The crude oil price has gone down as well. It depends on the crude barrel price,” he said.
The price at the Shell station fell to 1.02.9 per/L from 1.19.
“It was 1.19 and then it gradually went down three times already. Earlier it was 1.13.9 and then down to 1.08.9 and now it’s 1.05.9. This was in the last two weeks this was happening,” said manager Parwinder Kaur.
Customer activity varies
The pandemic has brought more customers to the Shell, and not just for the cheaper gas.
“With COVID-19 all the restaurants are closed so convenience stores and grocery stores are busy so people are stocking up. They’re buying lots of ice cream from here because the grocery stores are selling out, and lots of lottery tickets and cigarettes,” said Kaur.
“Plus with the (virus situation) they’re trying to fill up and isolate as much as they can and filling up jerry cans. We’re in Yellowknife so with the ice roads closing, usually the gas is more expensive in the communities so (customers are) buying cheap gas for the drive back to the communities.”
Kaur estimated that the station has experienced a thousand-litre increase in gas sales on weekends.
Prices at Gastown have fallen from around 1.23 two weeks ago to 1.03.
“I’m controlled by Petro Canada so when I get my gas I price it according to everyone else, except we’re also full service,” said manager Jamie Pye.
But the price drop hasn’t drawn more customers to this location. Pye said sales at the gas bar and convenience store are down by more than 50 per cent.
“It’s been steadily slowing down. With this virus on the go we’ve shut down the inside of our store, and we’re doing drive-through convenience store sales. We process the payments outside and wipe down our debit machines after every transaction.”
Virus destroys oil demand
Across the NWT, gas price changes were on average 20.2 cents per litre lower than one month ago, and 32.2 cents per litre lower than one year ago, according to an analysis from GasBuddy on Monday morning.
Canada-wide, the gas price average has fallen by 28.3 cents per litre during the last month and is 36.7 cents lower compared to a year ago.
“Gas prices have spent virtually all of March marching lower, with the drop continuing as the coronavirus destroys oil demand globally, leading to the lowest oil prices we’ve seen in 18 years, paving the way for still an additional 10-25 cent per litre drop at most stations in the weeks ahead,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a collapse in prices, even including the Great Recession. What we’re witnessing is easily going to go down as the great collapse in oil demand, and for motorists hurrying to fill up today, they’re wasting their money as prices will continue to drop in the days ahead,” he predicted. “Gas stations are passing along the drop several weeks behind, and there’s plenty more room for prices to drop… this is truly an unprecedented turn of events.”