Soaring gas prices in the wake of Hurricane Rita, and rumours of the worst yet to come, caused long line-ups at gas stations across Canada Thursday over fears that major Texas oil refineries will be shut down.
Drivers in Chatham, Ont., flocked to the pumps to fill up after one station raised prices to nearly $1.75 for a litre of regular unleaded.
And there were huge line-ups at stations throughout Halifax, N.S., following rumours that prices in the area had climbed to $1.79 a litre.
Oil companies maintained that the price for gas in most major eastern Canadian cities was between $1.00 and $1.20 for most of Thursday. But the rumours were enough to send drivers scrambling.
Hurricane Katrina already took out more refining capacity in the U.S. than exists in all of Canada -- according to Fred Scharf of PetroCanada. He added that supplies were already tight before Katrina hit.
But the industry is also insisting the fluctuations will settle down. That declaration is backed up by a new report from the Toronto-Dominion Bank, which predicts gas prices falling next year, but only to about 70 or 80 cents a litre.