Victoria's gas prices have been fluctuating wildly as a result of a marketing war between retail sellers, and prices have soared some days, but at least one expert says drivers need to keep a little perspective.
Paul Summerville, adjunct professor at the University of Victoria's Peter B. Gustavson School of Business, said flirtations with $1.35 a litre, which Victoria has seen this week, are really no big deal.
"Gas is not expensive - that's the hard message," said Summerville. "The amount of money it costs to fill your gas tank relative to your income compared to, say, 20 years ago is about half of what it was."
Summerville estimates that at the peak of the oil crisis in 1980, filling a gas tank would require about five per cent of a household's monthly expenditure.
"Now it's about two per cent," he said, noting of 140 countries, Canada ranks about 80th when it comes to the cost of gas.
Summerville said as demand increases for resource products such as oil and gas, it becomes more expensive to produce as companies have to head into more inhospitable climes to find oil. "That's what makes the tarsands economically viable," said Summerville.
"As demand rises, the cost of production determines the product cost."
Demand remains high as strong economies such China's continue to grow.
Summerville said consumers of commodities such as oil and gas are in for a rollercoaster ride, given the impact of an unstable Middle East and a fragile recovery in the United States.
Deidre Reid, spokeswoman for Chevron Canada, said crude oil and raw material costs are behind rising gas prices. Reid said local gas wars that bring the price down temporarily are the result of a "very competitive" market on the Island.
In December, the price of a litre of gas dropped below $1 for the first time in about two years as the large oil companies tried to combat aggressive pricing by Costco. This week, prices dropped and quickly rose again by about 20 cents per litre to rest around $1.30 Thursday afternoon.
"It's just one of those things that happens in the spring - gas prices start to fluctuate," said Jason Toews, founder of Gasbuddy.com, devoted to helping drivers find the cheapest gas prices. "And ever since we saw Costco come to town, we've seen that kind of trend happening."
Toews doesn't expect lower prices to stick around. "I expect to see them climbing up as we approach summer driving season."