'The government will continue to monitor the price of fuels'

GN cuts gasoline prices, hints at more to come

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

As of last Saturday, it cost 10 cents less to gas up your automobile in Nunavut.

Lorne Kusugak, the minister of Community and Government Services, announced a 10-cent-per-litre reduction in gasoline prices across Nunavut, effective March 21.

But prices for all other fuel products will remain at the levels that the Government of Nunavut set last summer.

"The government will continue to monitor the price of fuels and we will review the status of other fuel products once estimates are completed around June," Kusugak said.

At the same time, homeowners in Nunavut will get some relief from home heating oil costs, through a one-time $400 fuel rebate, announced by Keith Peterson, the finance minister, also on March 20.

The gasoline price cut results from the GN's decision to buy fuel supplies now to avoid the risk of a price rise later in the year.

The GN bought and shipped this year's fuel supplies last summer, when world crude oil prices exceeded $150 a barrel.

MLAs wanted to know if future fuel price reductions would produce a similar reduction to the price of electricity.

Fred Schell, MLA for South Baffin, suggested this could be done by removing the 12.5 per cent rider which was added on last year to help cover high diesel fuel purchase costs.

"When is the power corporation, with the price of fuel going down in future years, going to take that 12.5 per cent rider and reduce it or to help all the consumers now with the high power rates?" Schell asked Hunter Tootoo, the minister responsible for the Qulliq Energy Corp.

Tootoo wasn't encouraging when he responded to Schell's question March 17.

"That rate is set based on the cost for this past year when we unfortunately got our fuel," Tootoo said.

The Petroleum Products Division has already bought 16.6 million litres of ultra-low sulphur diesel, ULSD, which is currently being stored for delivery in 2009.

"By exercising an early purchase of this oil to date, we have saved approximately $5.9 million," Kusugak told the legislature March 17.

A second purchase of approximately 20 million litres of ULSD is being planned for some time in the next week or two, he said.

"And that takes care of most of the Eastern Arctic part of Nunavut's shipping, and the Kivalliq and Baffin area. Again, we still have a lot of fuel to purchase but this will help," Kusugak said.

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