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Volatile Calgary gas prices thwarted with new local app

It’s like a having a virtual jerry can full of gas.

Calgary-based start-up Fillip hopes to curb Albertans’ fuel-up fury – you know, the kind that happens like clockwork every long weekend – by giving users the chance to buy gasoline from select stations at any time and virtually store it.

“When you think about buying fuel today, you have no control over the cost or the timing. It’s when your tank is empty,” said Fillip CEO, Alice Reimer.

“We have, for the very first time, created an opportunity where consumers have the choice of when they buy fuel.”

Users download the Fillip app, set up an account, choose the grade of fuel they use and purchase it whenever they want, all from their phone. It’s then virtually stored at the site where they purchased, Reimer said.

“It’s a different kind of loyalty, where today, if you think about loyalty you think of it at a brand level. This is at a site level.”

Right now, the company has one participating location: The Centex on Edmonton Trail in Calgary. But Reimer said while they’re still in the rollout phase, they want to be able to iron out the kinks without an army of stations to manage.

They expect to have more online by the end of the first quarter of this year.

The fuel can be bought and ‘stored’ for as long as users pay membership fees – $5 monthly. If gas prices rise, users cash in on the lower price. If prices drop, users can always choose the spot pump price and, should they want to average down, they could buy more fuel at the lower price.

They also expect to have discounts on other merchandise, like washer fluid, at the participating locations.

Reimer downplayed the idea that it’s similar to hedging on fuel prices.

“You’ve prepaid for that fuel – you own it. You just happen to be storing it at that specific location,” she said.

“We’re essentially giving you a place to leave your virtual jerry can.”

Calgary’s gasoline prices have always experienced ongoing fluctuations. SCREENSHOT FROM GASBUDDY.COM

According to gasbuddy.com, Canadians can expect to see extreme volatility at the pumps.

“Canadian drivers should expect a bumpy ride at the pumps in 2019 with markets fluctuating wildly given the uncertainty over the economy as a whole and energy markets being driven by a news headline sensitive stock market,” said Dan McTeague, senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy, in a Jan. 2 news release.

“With carbon taxes set to begin or increase in 8 of 10 provinces, the average hike of 5 cents per litre by April 1st, combined with a limping Loonie, will almost certainly force up the cost of filling your tank, just in time for the summer driving season and switch over to more expensive summer gasoline.”

Reimer said Fillip gives users the chance to capitalize on those highs and lows.

“Everybody moans and groans about gas prices. Everybody,” she said.

“What we’re trying to do is create opportunities for customers where they’ve never had them before.”

For more information, visit callmefill.com.