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Gasoline prices drop below 70 cents

Gasoline prices drop below 70 cents

It’s a gas price break enough to pump up Calgarians’ flagging economic doldrums — at least a bit.

Gasoline prices on Wednesday dipped below 70 cents a litre in Calgary, something not seen since December, 2008.

Costco service stations were selling fuel for 66.9 cents, while some other retailers in a market boasting a wide variety of prices were at 70-71 cents per litre.

Gas price analyst Dan McTeague said it’s a bonanza of rarely-seen scope and frequency.

“These are prices we haven’t seen for a long time,” said McTeague of Gasbuddy.com.

But the cost of filling up your vehicle is likely to plumb the depths for some time, given the forecast for continued lowly oil prices that are largely driving the savings.

The symptom of Alberta’s economic downfall is one of its few silver linings, said McTeague.

“We can celebrate the fact we haven’t seen these prices for a long time but look at the cost when one strategic commodity goes south,” he said.

“Unfortunately, it’s taking the rest of the economy with it.”

Since June, 2014, West Texas Intermediate prices have plummeted from around $110 a barrel to $27 on Wednesday, while discounted Canadian heavy oil was struggling at $13.75.

Pump prices could temporarily bump up as spring approaches and refineries undergo maintenance, added McTeague, but the longer-term outlook is weak.

Last summer, the cost of gasoline in Calgary hovered around $1.05 a litre.

Crude values should continue to be feeble in at least the intermediate term, preserving that break for motorists, said energy analyst Michael Ervin.

“They’re going to go more or less where crude prices have been going so consumers are going to be benefitting from that,” said Ervin of the Kent Group Ltd.

“We’re not going to see any significant gasoline price change going into next year.”

He said if the lowly Canadian loonie was at parity with the U.S. dollar, pump prices would be a further 15 cents lower.

But he echoed McTeague’s assertion those discounts are a steep price to pay for an economy that’s otherwise costing motorists a lot more.

“Even if their paycheque doesn’t come from the oil industry, most would rather see a more robust economy,” said Ervin.

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