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Wendy Reuer, Published September 14 2012

Prices for gas nearing $4 per gallon, heading higher

FARGO – Gas prices here jumped Friday to about a dime below $4 per gallon, and experts say they won’t stop there, likely rocketing past an all-time record set in 2008 by the end of this weekend.

According to AAA of North Dakota, the average price per gallon of gas in the metro on Friday afternoon was $3.89, up about 25 cents from a month ago.

Without adjusting for inflation, the all-time highest gasoline price average in Fargo was $3.978, set on July 9, 2008.

“It’s probably going to continue going up at least for the next several days,” said Gene LaDoucer, AAA of North Dakota spokesman.

The last time Fargo got this close to averaging $4 per gallon gas was in May 2011, when the metro average hovered around $3.89 per gallon.

“We’ve never actually seen a $4 average in Fargo. We have seen some stations $4 or higher,” LaDoucer said Friday.

Nationally, gas averaged $3.86 per gallon Friday, according to GasBuddy.

com.

AAA statistics showed a North Dakota average of $3.95 per gallon on Friday.

An average of $4.08 is the highest statewide average, set on July 17, 2008.

“This is the highest price we’ve ever seen this time of year. The last couple of years we’ve seen the spread between the national average and the state average increase during this time frame,” LaDoucer said.

None of the prices above are adjusted for inflation.

When prices are rising at the pump, costs of gas supplies are rising for station owners like Dan Phillips, owner of Rod’s West Acres Cenex.

Phillips said the impact of rising gas prices is as far-reaching as its causes.

“It’s all based off gas prices are speculation,” Phillips said. “Gas prices are a culmination of a lot of things.”

LaDoucer said the biggest driver of this recent increase is likely the mounting conflicts in the Middle East.

Anti-U.S. tensions mounted this week after conflicts were triggered by a California-made anti-Islam movie that went viral. The tensions resulted in violent protests aimed at U.S. embassies and the death of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three diplomats in Libya.

Higher pump prices can also mean more drive-offs, a spike some have attributed to “gas rage.”

In Fargo, Police Lt. Joel Vettel said no detailed study exists to link increased drive-offs with higher gas prices in the metro, but officers are aware of the possibility.

“We certainly are more conscious of those types of calls when we see an increase (in prices),” he said.

Vettel said the police try to work with gas businesses to prevent and investigate drive-offs.

“If we’re going to seek prosecution and investigate gas drive offs we really need the full cooperation of those businesses,” he said. “We don’t want to get into the aspect of being a collection agency.”

Some stations have opted to move to pre-pay pumps which require the money up front. Vettel said the option seems to help.

In the meantime, LaDoucer said he doesn’t believe the high prices will last long. Historically, North Dakota has tended to see falling gas prices in late September and October.

“It’s difficult to say but looking at history we can expect gasoline prices to move lower come October, barring any supply disruptions,” he said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530


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