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Gas price hike fuelled by higher oil prices

Chris Windeyer
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Nov 06/06) - Nunavummiut are paying 10 cents per litre more for gas, but Community and Government Services Minister Levinia Brown says it could have been worse.

NNSL Photo/graphic

Adamie Kooveanatuk fills up a truck at Baffin Gas Bar in Iqaluit Thursday. - Chris Windeyer/NNSL photo

The GN set the new price of fuel last week and Brown said consumers would have had to pay double that if they were directly exposed to the spiralling market price for crude oil.

"We need to recover as much of the cost of the government's fuel purchases as possible," Brown stated in a news release.

"On the other hand, a major price increase will hurt hunters, communities, homeowners, businesses and economic development. I believe the 10-cent solution is a balanced approach."

The government bought 169 million litres of fuel to last until next year's spring sealifts start. The total bill for that fuel was $119 million.

Pond Inlet's assistant senior administrative officer, Jesse Nutarak, said his hamlet knew the increase was coming, but will still have to watch vehicle use to conserve fuel.

"It's always a challenge for us every winter, trying not to use too much petroleum," he said. "When we try to conserve fuel and there are a lot of people asking for water and sewage (service) we don't have a choice but to give the service."

The price increase will also be reflected at Nunavut gas pumps. Baffin Gas Bar in Iqaluit was offering gas at a special price of 99.9 cents per litre until Friday afternoon, when they raised it to 119.9 cents, up from their regular price of 106.9 cents per litre.

The new price in Iqaluit is more expensive than Whitehorse (108 cents), Yellowknife (109 cents), and Labrador City (111 cents), but cheaper than in Inuvik (121 cents), Churchill (146 cents) and Kuujjuaq (166 cents), according to GN figures.

Qulliq Energy customers will also feel the pinch. The utility has requested an increase in the fuel stabilization rider that helps cover the cost of diesel used to generate power.

If the company's request to the Utility Rates Review Council (URRC) is approved, the fuel stabilization rider will nearly double from 3.98 cents per kilowatt hour to 7.87 cents.

That amount is already on Qulliq customer bills, but Energy Minister Ed Picco said customers will get a rebate if the URRC comes back with a lower amount for the rider.