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Summer & winter gas at all stations? Huh?

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For some reason, this article is behind a paywall for some, but not for others even if you're not a subscriber. I'll repost it here as is:

"Gas prices have been going up again. Is that because of the switch to summer gas? Why do they switch to summer gas, anyway – and why is it more expensive? Will prices keep going up this summer for other reasons? – Daryl, Halifax

The switch to summer gas sends prices higher every year – but this year has been worse, according to a gas price analyst.

“The difference in price between summer and winter gas was always between three and six cents a litre,” said Dan McTeague, president of Canadians for Affordable Energy, a Toronto-based group that advocates for government policies in support of cheaper oil, gas and electricity.

“But that changed a little bit with inflation and everything happening now (including reduced fossil fuel production, supply chain issues and boycotts on Russian oil after the invasion of Ukraine), and costs have gone through the roof. This year, I think it will be seven cents.”

Refineries switch the gasoline formula twice a year because of government regulations. The switch to a summer blend is mandatory by April 15 and the switch to winter gas starts on Sept. 15.

Summer gas has a lower Reid vapour pressure (RVP) – a measure of how quickly a gas evaporates. Each province sets the RVP according to technical standards set by the Canadian General Standards Board.

Simply put, winter gasoline contains higher levels of butane. That butane is needed to start a car in cold temperatures.

But in warm temperatures, gasoline with a lot of butane starts to evaporate quickly, producing ground-level ozone that can contribute to smog.

For summer gas, some of that butane gets replaced with alkylates, which are “extremely expensive,” McTeague said.

Summer gas also reduces the chances of “pinging” – when gas ignites on its own in the cylinder before it’s supposed to, he said. While summer gas is more expensive, it delivers better gas mileage.


“There’s a difference and people do notice that,” McTeague said. “The big problem is that in the winter, a lot of vehicles won’t start very well on summer gas.”

Alkylate prices are increasing because of growing demand, especially in China and India, he said. More refiners are using them worldwide to meet “more stringent environmental and consumption mandates.”

More pump pain ahead?

Gas prices rose in April after the switch to summer gas and the April 1 increase of the federal carbon tax. Expect more increases ahead, McTeague said.

That’s partly the result of a regular supply-and-demand equation. Gasoline supply decreases every summer as refineries shut down for maintenance, while demand for gasoline increases because of summer travel. That demand fell because of the pandemic, but it’s coming back, he said.

“After the May long weekend, watch out. Unless we go into a global recession or depression, we could see oil moving past US$130 a barrel,” McTeague said. “A lot of this simply is due to just lack of availability – supply chain issues and a lack of supply.”

He said gas could reach $2.20 a litre this summer, with diesel going even higher.

The issues we face every summer add “just pennies” to the cost of gas, said Carol Montreuil, vice-president of the Canadian Fuels Association, which represents the transportation fuel industry.

“We can discuss all kinds of smaller details happening regionally, like winter versus summer gasoline,” Montreuil said. “But at the end of the day, when you look at the price at the pump, there are two main components – the price of crude and taxes … which are as high as 30 to 35 per cent [including GST and provincial sales taxes] in Canada.”

The price of crude oil – which is used to make gasoline and diesel – has been volatile since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. It rose to more than US$130 a barrel in March. But since that peak, the price has dropped, ending the week around US$105 a barrel.

“I clearly never make predictions; your crystal ball is as good as mine,” Montreuil said. “That said, [investment bank] JPMorgan is on the record saying that if the [European Union] sanctions on Russia were to include oil and gas, that could push the price of crude upwards of US$180 a barrel.”

So how high could gas prices get?

“A dollar per barrel is about a penny a litre at the pump,” Montreuil said. So if gas costs around $1.80 per litre when the price of oil is around US$100, the price of gas will be around $2.60 if the price of oil hits US$180 a barrel.

Have a driving question? Send it to globedrive@globeandmail.com and put ‘Driving Concerns’ in your subject line. Emails without the correct subject line may not be answered. Canada’s a big place, so let us know where you are so we can find the answer for your city and province."

Has anybody heard of this before? I mean, I've heard of Petro Canada advertising their so-called "Winter Gas", but I've never heard of all refineries being government regulated to have a summer and winter formulation that they switch between twice a year...

Not to mention, what about provinces and cities with non-freezing climates like Vancouver? Why would they need butane and other additives in the fuel to help cars start? Plus, wouldn't changing formulations potentially mess with catalytic converters and oxygen sensors?

It almost reeks of bullshit to have another excuse to raise fuel prices.

Edited by Brian_Earl_Spilner
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LOL, very similiar to the amount of effluent coming out of Ottawa.

I have never heard of summer vs winter gas let alone any mandates. There is a switch from #1 and #2 diesel at the formentioned times of the year but that is simply because diesels will NOT run here in the middle of winter on #2 diesel.

And last chart I saw taxes equalled 68% the total cost of gasoline.

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"Winter" gas a higher Reid vapor pressure than "summer" gas to help it ignite in lower temperatures. Reid vapor pressure can be changed by the addition or removal butane (along with many other different additives). Gov.gc.ca doesn't specify a mixture ratio that I can find. As for deteriorating emission equipment, could be a cash grab among other things.

"Gas mandates", Why do you thing that pumps are showing a higher ethanol content or the removal of 94 octane. Its not like people weren't buying it before. Presumably it goes though nrcan.gc.ca for mixture ratios/blends and its likely different between regions in Canada. It would be weird to assume that gas stations in Merritt and Hope at roughly 4000 ft above sea level would be able to sell the same gas as they sell in Vancouver exactly at sea level, or comparing gas in Colorado (~5200 ft) to gas sold in Ohio (~800ft). Assuming all based on Boyle's Law P1V1 = P2V2

Speaking of cash grabs, "oh no, we've stopped importing Russian oil. Time to raise prices"


Canada banned CRUDE oil imports in 2019, To this day we are still importing REFINDED oil from Russian. Atlantic Canada is one of the biggest Canadian users of Russian and "other" imported oil. Nothing has changed since 2019. (Unless they have changed that very recently)


The "other" category looks a bit suspect, although this is strictly for Crude oil imports and not refined.


Why are we getting charged more for natural gas, gas, diesel, ect. - Because reasons

What I likely think the culprit is in this case; They're adding additional "sin" taxes to deter the sale/use similar to tobacco/alcohol. 

But that's not an opinion on if this is right/wrong


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