COLUMN: We may end up thanking the Saudis for this

Trust my luck, the price of fuel always drops to reasonable prices just when I have no desire to drive anywhere...

Trust my luck, the price of fuel always drops to reasonable prices just when I have no desire to drive anywhere farther than the local grocery store.

During the summer and fall, prices were such that any long trips were few and far between, the cost of gas making a flight to Hawaii about the same as a motor trip to the Cariboo.

A few years ago, when the economy went into the tank and fuel prices fell accordingly, I could drive up north, spend a few days cruising the back country, and get home on just few hundred dollars.

Not so in the recent past with per-litre prices hovering in the $1.40 range. Today, at Costco, it’s about $1.05 and at some in-town stations under $1.10.

Great for tourism, except with snow and cold weather adorning most of B.C. for the next three months, who wants to go anywhere?

And that may be part of the reason the price of oil has plunged about 30 per cent.

Travel – at least in northern climes – is pretty much at a standstill for the average consumer, though our food and other products are still moved daily by commercial transport.

That might eventually translate into reduced prices for groceries and other commodities.

However, for some unfathomable reason (at least to me), the price of diesel is, and has been for some time, higher than gasoline, which as I understand, requires considerably more refining.

Go figure, unless you accept the premise that “Big Oil” knows we need big trucks that burn diesel to move most of the goods we use on this continent.

“Charge what the market will bear” must be the mantra in Oil’s corporate head offices.

Despite that, prices are now falling simply because trying to justify at-the-pump prices for fuel when the price of a barrel of crude has dropped from more than $120 to under $70 would usher in the loud ringing of greed bells across the continent.

The reason for the drop – North America has developed previously untapped sources of oil, and OPEC has maintained its flow to the market, resulting in something like two million barrels a day more oil than is being consumed.

Suddenly, at least for commuters, it is now a buyers’ market, particularly if you fuel-up outside Metro Vancouver, which has its added 17 cents/litre transit tax on top of the price we pay out here in the Valley.

Despite my lack of motor travel, I might even see a break in the price of heating fuel, since living out in the boonies means I heat my home with oil instead of natural gas – the price of which is a significant cost benefit to those living “on the grid.”

Perhaps the only casualties in the fall of oil prices may be some who work in the oil patches of northern B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Not much point looking for more wells when there is a massive glut on the market, maintained by Saudi Arabia,  which seems to be trying to force the high-cost operators out of business by keeping the price of oil below their profitability line. We may even end up thanking them for that.

Regardless, it appears that at least for now, we shall all benefit from lower fuel costs. And I’ve got my fingers crossed it will continue long enough to enable a few more trips into northern B.C. to fit my budget next year.