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Nova Scotia gas, diesel prices drop overnight after UARB uses 'interrupter' clause


The interrupter clause is going into effect overnight, which usually signals a swing in gasoline prices of several cents per litre. - Ryan Taplin
The interrupter clause is going into effect overnight, which usually signals a swing in gasoline prices of several cents per litre. - Ryan Taplin

UPDATE: The price of gas fell by six cents a litre overnight after the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board invoked its interrupter clause. That means that price in the Halifax area fell from 119.3 a litre to 113.3 cents a litre overnight, with the same drop in the rest of the provincial gas price zone areas. The price of diesel also fell -- from 117.8 to 112.9. Read more about the reason behind NSUARB's decision in our story from yesterday, below.


The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board says it will invoke the so-called “interrupter clause” to change the retail price of gasoline and diesel at midnight Tuesday.

Although the provincial regulator isn’t saying the price is going up or down, it noted in a news release Tuesday afternoon that “the change is necessary due to significant shifts in the market prices of gasoline and diesel oil. Pump prices will be changed at midnight tonight.”

Paul Allen, the review board’s executive director, said in an interview the change in the price has to be sustained in order for the interrupter to invoked.

When looking back at past uses of the interrupter, Allen said most have changed by more than six cents a litre although there are a couple of instances when the interrupter changed the price by a little more than 5 cents a litre.

And in one instance, he said the price change was more than eight cents a litre.

Considering the recent decline in gasoline trading in the unregulated marketplace, it is expected the Nova Scotia price will be lowered by at least six cents at midnight Tuesday.

Atlantic Canada gas price predictor, St. John’s, N.L. taxi driver and politician, George Murphy sent out a tweet on Tuesday that the price change would cut the Nova Scotia pump price close to seven cents a litre.

Nova Scotia’s benchmark price of gasoline and diesel oil is based on an average of the daily market price for refined gasoline and diesel oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange converted into Canadian dollars.

The retail price paid at the pumps is the benchmark price with wholesale margin, retailer markup, transportation allowance, cost of carbon, and taxes added.

The UARB monitors the markets for diesel oil and gasoline daily and, should conditions warrant, may set a new price at any time, Allen said in the Tuesday release.

According to the province’s Petroleum Products Pricing Act, the interrupter is a mechanism available to the board to respond to sudden and significant spikes, up or down, in petroleum product prices.

“Gasoline and diesel markets are global in nature and trade internationally 24 hours a day. News and information on economic factors, geo-political concerns or weather systems can have an immediate impact on these markets,” it states in the act.

The review board may interrupt the regularly scheduled weekly setting of prices, based on abrupt changes in the marketplace, “and re-set the price to meet the objectives of just and reasonable prices and security of supply.”

The interrupter will be used when the market price for a particular petroleum product fluctuates by a range of (plus or minus) 6 cents to 8 cents per litre, versus the weekly benchmark price set by the board, and the change is sustained, according to the review board.

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