Drivers are seeing some relief at the pumps thanks to tumbling oil prices.

Oil was trading at $23 a barrel this morning and petroleum expert Dan McTeague said it’s related to the collapse in demand.

“It’s all fear and measure taken to avert the spread of the (COVID-19) virus,” said McTeague, who is the president of Canadians for Affordable Energy.

McTeague said the dramatic and deep decline of 40 cents a litre has left many stations in a “no-win situation” where selling today with product they bought a week ago “could bankrupt them.”

“Worse, OPEC and Russia are overproducing oil in an attempt to undermine other oil producers,” McTeague said. 

McTeague warns that falling oil prices are bad news for our economy.

“Unfortunately, at $7 a barrel that means the end of Canada’s oil sector which is 10 per cent of our GDP,” he said.

“There are real costs for everyone and that also means a big hit to our purchasing power, as the Canadian dollar loses serious ground to the US dollar – the standard by which we price all our commodities.”

A silver lining though is the sharp decline in gas prices.

Gasbuddy.com has regular unleaded going for between $1.13 and $1.19 per litre at several stations in Courtenay.

It’s the same story in Campbell River, where regular unleaded is selling for between $1.15 and $1.19 per litre at a number of stations.

However, drivers in places like Port Hardy and Powell River aren’t catching a break. 

Prices in Port Hardy remain high at $1.31 per litre.

And regular unleaded was selling at a whopping $1.36 per litre this morning in Powell River.

McTeague said Powell River is an exceptional situation in that it’s only served by barge and the turnover in fuel isn’t very high. 

“This may apply to many isolated communities in B.C.,” he added.