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Gas Showdown in Sask. The town cuts the price to less than $1 per litre

As fuel prices continue to plummet in Saskatchewan, a price war between two rural gas bars reminded drivers of the good old days at the pump.

Esso and Gas Plus Bars in Blaine Lake, Sask., a town of 500 people, 80 kilometers north of Saskatoon, on opposite sides of the highway.

Melissa Johnson, Esso’s manager, said she understood that Gas Plus would be only two cents less than its fuel offerings, though occasionally decided to cut their price by three or four cents.

On Monday, Esso owners took exception to Gas Plus’ low prices and further reduced their own prices. The subsequent competition resulted in a lower price of 94.9 cents for regular fuel at Esso.

Gas Plus did not return a request for comment.

Johnson has worked at Esso for nearly two decades. He said he had never seen a price war leading to such extraordinary lows at the two stations. He said it prompted people to drive from Prince Albert, Sask. – More than 100-kilometer trek – just to get gas.

“People were calling from everywhere; I don’t know where people are calling from today, but [we’ve probably] Four dozen people called this morning. Our phone won’t stop ringing,” he said.

“Overall, it worked for the customer.”

A line of cars flows from the road to the Esso gas station
Esso in Blaine Lake, Sask., had a series of cars on the road, drivers looking to cash in on the gas price war between Esso and the gas bar across the street, Gas Plus. (Karan Rameshwar)

Jatinder Sharma, owner of Esso, says it is not a bitter competition, but he estimates that he has lost around $4,000 to $5,000 dollars in competition.

“He learned and I learned,” Sherma said.

Two gas stations are back to their starting prices, as is the rest of the province.

Low gas prices in Sask. in months

Fuel prices have been rising steadily since early January 2022, before rising by around 20 cents per liter from March 1 to March 9.

Since then, they have continued to rise gradually, with the average price of a liter of regular fuel a little over $2 a month ago.

In late June, that pump began to reduce pressure, bringing drivers across Canada back to normal. By Tuesday afternoon both Regina and Saskatoon were at just over $1.66 per litre.

Fuel costs have been lower since May.

Saskatchewan is the second cheapest province for gas, after Alberta, at about 168.8 cents per litre, said Patrick de Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, a company that reports fuel prices at Canadian gas stations in other countries.

“A lot has to do with the drop in oil prices due to economic concerns.”

He said there was an economic slowdown in the US, China and Europe that “could lead to a decline in overall oil demand”.

Oil barrels were around $125 per barrel in early June but had fallen to around $95 per barrel by Monday, he said.

De Haan said gas prices will drop five to 10 cents a liter in the next two weeks, but lingering geopolitical tensions or natural weather disasters like a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico could change that.

They don’t expect gas prices to return to what we’re used to until certain global issues like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are resolved.

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