• U.S. retail prices jumped 13 cents a gallon since last week
  • Driving demand reached highest seasonal level on record

Gasoline from Vancouver is reaching the U.S. East Coast for the first time in a year, bypassing lower-priced markets in California.

Earlier this month, Vitol Group SA took a combination gasoline/diesel cargo to Port Canaveral, Florida, from Vancouver, U.S. Customs data show. Gasoline hasn’t been shipped on that route in data compiled since 2013, according to Bloomberg oil-market specialist Bert Gilbert. A second clean-products tanker arrived near New York Harbor from Vancouver earlier this week, according to Bloomberg ship-tracking data. 

Last month, when the cargoes loaded in Vancouver, New York Harbor gasoline prices rose to as much as 30.87 cents higher than Los Angeles. Vancouver gasoline was last exported to New Jersey in February 2015. 

A combination of warmer-than-average temperatures and spring break holidays is pushing Americans’ gasoline demand to an all-time seasonal high, Michael Green, a Washington-based spokesman for AAA, said by phone. Demand last week rose to the highest seasonally in at least 30 years, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Canadian gasoline consumption is relatively subdued, Robert Campbell, head of oil-products research at Energy Aspects Ltd., said by phone from New York. "Western Canada is being hit pretty hard. Alberta refineries are not having the same level of demand as they used to," he said.

U.S. gasoline pump prices have surged 15 percent since bottoming at $1.696 a gallon in mid-February, AAA data show. The price gained 13 cents a gallon in the past week, the largest weekly jump since July 2013, Green said. Gasoline imports into the U.S. East Coast jumped to a six-month high as they rose 37 percent week-over-week to 654,000 barrels a day, EIA data show.

It’s going to be a strong year for gasoline demand, Energy Aspects analyst Campbell said. "The current price level is very supportive of overall demand growth."

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