There is little relief from pain at the pumps these days, especially as the price of diesel has nearly doubled in the last year.
Diesel is now averaging $2.29 per litre across Canada, and is even more expensive than premium gasoline. In the last month alone, a litre of diesel has climbed by 35 cents.
Some are stuck having to grin and bear it, like Peter Ruiter, a dairy farmer from Ottawa, who relies on diesel to power his farm equipment.
“The reality is I can’t go till these fields by hand — there’s just too many acres to do,” he said.
Rising fuel prices are another blow to consumers struggling with the escalating cost of living, as inflation hit a level in March that hasn’t been seen in decades.
And the sky-high cost of diesel means the transportation of goods has become more costly, as diesel — which is typically more efficient and economical — powers the trucks, the trains and some of the ships our supply chains rely on.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has sparked a sharp rise in commodity prices, including crude oil. Many countries have introduced sanctions on Russia, which is a major exporter of oil and natural gas. At the same time, demand for fuel is climbing as economic activity picks up around the world.
“There’s been a diesel shortage globally, meaning that inventories are [at an] all-time low. I’ve never seen such low inventories,” Vijay Muralidharan, a senior consultant at Kalibrate, an analytics firm that tracks fuel prices.
Another part of the reason diesel prices have soared across North America is because of record exports from the U.S. Gulf Coast. The majority of the fuel is destined for South America, where countries are burning diesel for electricity as the hydropower supply falls during the Southern Hemisphere’s winter season.
There is an increased reliance on diesel in some of those countries this year, said Muralidharan, because of reduced supplies of natural gas.
It also comes at a time when more and more families are needing assistance, said Emily-anne King, co-executive director of Backpack Buddies, an organization that supplies food to more than 4,000 children in British Columbia.
“It’s really alarming for us to see these price increases,” said King. “Not delivering is simply not an option.… We’ve made these commitments and we will continue to find ways to get there and be there for the families and kids that we support.”
The organization itself is feeling the pinch of sky-high diesel prices, as costs are rising to deliver food throughout the province to families that are struggling to make ends meet.
“These last couple of weeks, we have felt more pressure and received more calls from communities and individuals that are needing support,” she said. “And it just isn’t slowing down.”