Methodology Notes

Posted on: Friday, March 11th, 2016

Updated: September 16, 2019

Gasoline, Diesel and Automotive Propane Pump Prices

The gasoline and diesel pump prices are collected directly from retailers (gas stations) every weekday morning at 10:00 AM local. The prices reported in the daily reports are thus a ‘snapshot’ of the prices on that particular day. The survey encompasses 70 cities across Canada and includes sites from the major (branded) oil companies as well as independents. Only self-serve prices are collected.

The prices reported in the weekly reports for gasoline and diesel are an average of the daily prices from the previous Wednesday to the current Tuesday.  These files are updated every Tuesday (weekends excluded).  This methodology for the weekly prices started July 1st, 2016.  Prior to July 1st, the weekly price represents a snapshot price from Tuesday only.

Automotive propane pump prices are collected directly from retailers (gas stations) every Tuesday morning at 10:00 AM local time.  These prices are not collected daily.

Pump prices include all applicable federal, provincial and urban (municipal) taxes as well as sales taxes where applicable. The ex-tax price represents the price of the fuel before any taxes are levied.

The Canada average represents a weighted average based on annual retail sales volumes collected from Kent Group Ltd using the following 10 cities: St. John’s, Charlottetown, Halifax, St. John, Montréal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina, Calgary and Vancouver.

The prices presented in the monthly reports are an average of the prices from the daily reports for that month. Prices are for specific urban centres and do not represent provincial or state averages.  The monthly reports for automotive propane, represent an average of the prices from the four or five weekly reports contained in the respective month.  Prior to July 1st 2016, gasoline and diesel monthly reports are an average of the four or five weekly reports.

Wholesale Prices for Regular and Premium Unleaded Gasoline and Low Sulfur Diesel

We report wholesale regular unleaded gasoline and low sulfur diesel prices in 24 Canadian cities. The prices are collected directly from Canadian wholesalers and are reported daily (weekdays only) in Canadian cents per litre. Wholesale prices are not taxed; all taxes are applied to the pump price at the retail level.  Weekly and monthly reports follow the same methodology as retail gasoline.

The prices reflect a snapshot of wholesale prices at a particular point in time and at specific locations. Prices can vary significantly from day to day and city to city. Prices are for specific urban centres and do not represent provincial or state averages.

Crude Prices

Crude prices are collected daily (weekdays only) from a number of crude oil reporting sources, and the exchange rates used are from the Bank of Canada. All prices, as well as tariffs and exchange rates, are used to calculate daily averages that are then converted to metric measurements. Weekly and monthly amounts are calculated using an average of the daily totals.

Regular Unleaded Gasoline and Diesel Pump Price Margins and Components

The crude price basis used for Montreal and all markets east of Ontario is the monthly average Brent crude price for the relevant day, week, or month. The crude price used in Ontario (as of September 2016) is a light/heavy blend using Canadian Light Sweet and Western Canadian Select (WCS) respectively. The crude price used for all cities west of Ontario (as of September 2016) is a blend of Synthetic Crude (SCO) and (WCS). This is meant to approximate the regional disparities of facility-specific crude acquisition costs.

Prior to October 2011, all markets used the reported average for Edmonton Par.

As of October 2011, markets east of Ontario changed to a monthly average crude price using Brent.

Between January 2014 and September 2016, Western Canada monthly average crude price changed to Western Canadian Select, and Ontario changed to a light/heavy blend of (WTI and WCS).

The retail pump and ex-tax pump prices used to calculate margins and components, are sourced from the relevant daily, weekly or monthly averages.

As of July 1st, 2016, we report daily marketing and refiner margins for gasoline and diesel.

The marketing margin is calculated by subtracting the relevant wholesale product price from the retail ex-tax price.   Since we do not collect wholesale data for all the markets in the retail files, we reference the wholesale prices of proximate markets, and at times, add in a transportation cost adjustment.  These margins are meant as an approximation of gross margins and are not derived from actual company or facility-specific margin data.

To see a table with each market and their corresponding wholesale and crude references, click here.

The refiner margin is calculated by subtracting the relevant regional average crude price from the relevant wholesale price.  Crude prices are collected at the end of the day, and thus, are always a day behind all other daily reportings.  Refiner margins are calculated using crude prices, and so, it is also reported a day behind the other margins.

The marketing margin for each market is available on the daily pricing report (DPPS).  The market-specific refiner margin (in addition the marketing margin and tax component) is available through our charting options, located on the lower half of our main pricing page.

The monthly Margin files (Regular, Diesel, and Furnace Oil) located in the drop down menus, use the monthly averages for the corresponding unbranded rack price from the wholesale reports. The respective prices and tax rates are matched with its corresponding prices based on the market. For both Yellowknife and Whitehorse the Edmonton rack price is used.

Consumption Taxes on Petroleum Products

The order in which taxes are applied to the underlying product price is described as follows: 1) consumption and excise taxes (municipal, provincial and federal) are added to the extax price, then 2) the GST/HST is calculated and added onto the sum from 1), then 3) (in Quebec only) the QST is calculated and added onto the result of 2). To see a detailed breakdown of taxation in Canada, see taxation reports here.

Federal and provincial tax reductions, exemptions, rebates or refunds are available in some cases.

The Department of Finance provides Federal tax information and each respective provincial finance department provides provincial tax levels.

Residential Furnace Oil Prices

Current Furnace Oil Prices:  This data is a weekly survey of furnace oil suppliers in 35 Canadian cities.  Markets in the Prairies are not displayed because residential furnace oil accounts for less than one percent of all residential heating requirements in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.  Prices including and excluding taxes are published separately.  The including taxes document incorporate the federal GST, and the QST in Québec and Montréal, where applicable.

Historical data available from January 1987 to 1995: This data was gathered by Natural Resources Canada during the heating season (September to April) and compares residential heating oil prices at the end of the month in selected markets across Canada. The data is a composite of prices reported in NRCan’s monthly survey of residential heating oil prices and information provided by Canadian refiners. The prices represent effective prices including any temporary allowances in place at the time of reporting. The Canadian average represents the weighted average price of seven city prices including St. John’s, Charlottetown, Halifax, Saint John, Montréal, Toronto and Vancouver.

Natural Gas Prices

Natural gas for automobiles has limited availability outside of major markets in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario.  The natural gas survey is conducted on Tuesday’s for only Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto. The table shows the retail price (including tax) for the current year in cents per kilogram.