At the urging of several readers, we brought back the weekly roundup of provincial and national gas prices to The Citizen. It runs every Wednesday on page 2.
Between the letters to the editor and the return of the gas price roundup, it appears someone might be listening.
Since the gas prices list returned to The Citizen on Oct. 17, local fuel prices have been dropping steadily from 138.9, down to 132.9, then 130.9 and now 126.9.
Hey, you're welcome.
We'll keep running the list and see what happens.
The list, unfortunately, shows that there is more to the going rate for gas in Prince George than the daily newspaper listing prices in other cities in B.C. and Canada.
Gas prices have been falling across B.C. for the last month and we're still paying more than Kelowna, Kamloops and Vancouver, even though folks in the Lower Mainland pay a hefty 15 cents extra in transit tax on top of their regular fuel price.
World oil prices have been trending down all year long, from just over $100 a barrel (West Texas Intermediate) to about $85 a barrel this week, although the price hit $78 a barrel back in June before rebounding.
The longer term trend, however, is rising oil prices, starting from the rock bottom of December 1998, when a barrel of oil sold for the princely sum of $10.95. The lowest it hit in the weeks and months after 9/11 was $18.38 in November 2001. It has never been that low since.
The surging North American economy pushed oil prices steadily higher. In January 2007, oil was at $55 a barrel and then it took off, soaring to $140 a barrel at the end of June 2008.
Then the bottom fell out of the global economy and the price of oil hit $33 by the end of 2008.
Except for those six months, a straight line could be drawn on a chart showing oil prices for the last 10 years, clearly depicting a steady, consistent increase.
Short story - high fuel prices are likely here to stay.
And even if prices in the market were to drop, governments at all levels are increasingly taxing fuel at the pump to pay for various projects, from transit expansion in Vancouver to a host of infrastructure and green initiatives from the federal government.
And, in hindsight, we can see how lower fuel prices shaped so much of our lifestyle and culture for so many years.
It gave us the mistaken impression that the supply was endless and it led us to driver in bigger and bigger vehicles and live in larger and larger homes.
Gas stayed so cheap for so long that we thought it would always be that way.
Factoring in inflation and extra government taxes over the last 30 years, the price of gas is a little on the high side but not that far away from where it should be, considering it is a non-renewable resource easily buffetted by the winds blowing through the global marketplace.
The oil and gas companies are enjoying great profits and have been for many years (except for the 2008 collapse) but too many people complain about it as if they aren't getting a slice of that pie. Anyone who invests in mutual funds or a pension as part of their retirement savings plan (i.e. most working Canadians) can thank the oil and gas companies for their growing nest egg. Furthermore, colleges, universities and hospitals have happily taken multi-million dollar donations from the industry to help fuel their growth.
Secondly, oil and gas companies directly and indirectly employ hundreds of thousands of Canadians. Without the oil and gas sector, Canada would be a Second World country, with the accompanying economic output, lifestyle and wages.
Lastly, there is the most basic reality check. Oil and gas companies are not non-profit foundations. They are for-profit corporations working in a capitalist democracy where, once they have met their financial obligations to government (taxes) and their employees (wages), they are free to make as much money as legally possible, a right enjoyed by all working individuals.
So we'd like to take credit for the quick decline in local gas prices this month but we know better.
We had nothing to do with it and let's not get cocky because it won't last.