Local operator has little control

Local operator has little control “It’s time to circle the wagons and start shooting inwards!”

“It’s time to circle the wagons and start shooting inwards!”

That seems to be the battle-cry locally as various people got excited about the high price of gasoline – high relative to Kamloops, that is.

Those making the most noise seem to forget that just over one year ago, Clearwater had the lowest priced gasoline in British Columbia. That was when there was a gas war taking place here.

Now there is a gas war happening in Kamloops and some cannot understand why those same low prices don’t apply everywhere.

Apparently a major chain wants to increase its market share in the city and the others there are forced to follow suit.

The reduced prices extend out of the city but not far – about the distance it no longer becomes worthwhile to drive.

The complainers can’t blame the oil companies – they’re too powerful and too far away. The local gas station owners and, better yet, the employees pumping the gas or handling the money are much closer and more vulnerable.

Yes, gas prices in Clearwater are higher than in Kamloops. They also are lower than in Golden. According to bcgasprices.com, that community had the dubious distinction of having the highest prices in B.C. last week, at 133.9.

Gas prices go up and down – mostly up, but the local operator really has little control over what the local price will be.

Our understanding is he or she gets a phone call from head office with suggested prices. The local owner-operator is free to accept or reject those suggestions, but few dare to buck the system – and those who do don’t last long.

Lack of competition in the oil industry is a big problem. It is global and it is serious.  Let’s work on ways we can address the real problem. Let’s not allow our frustration to lead us to make scapegoats out of those we find more convenient to attack.

Keith McNeill is the editor of The Clearwater Times.

* Editor’s note:  Gas prices last Friday in Barriere and Clearwater were 119.9, Heffley Creek was 111.9, and Kamloops ranged from 113.9 to 119.9.