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Helmut Schmidt, Published October 25 2012

Dropping fuel prices make a splash in F-M

FARGO – Gas prices have slid precipitously in the Fargo area in the past month, but nowhere is the relief at the pump felt so dramatically as on the corner of 13th Avenue and 34th Street South.

That’s where three filling stations, an All-Stop, PetroServe, and Little Dukes, were pumping gas at $3.39 a gallon on Thursday.

According to AAA North Dakota, gas prices statewide have fallen an average of 42 cents a gallon in the last month.

Consumers who aren’t breathing a sigh of relief are probably just saying their hallelujahs.

“They’re awesome. Especially when you drop 10 cents in one day,” said Cindy Weinberger of Fargo at the Little Dukes.

She said she watches gas prices closely and figures she could save at least $50 a month at the pump.

“I do a lot of driving,” Weinberger said. “I’m in my car more than in my house.”

Cheque Edwards of West Fargo was filling his SUV as part of his grocery shopping and paying bills.

“I think that’s good. It’s helping me out a lot,” said Edwards at the PetroServe pumps.

“I just moved here from Indiana, where gas is $4.89, $4.85” a gallon, Edwards said. “It’s really a big break.”

Price quotes on gasbuddy.

com put the range in Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo at $3.39 to $3.59 for a gallon of unleaded gasoline, with prices still falling on Thursday. Many stations were at $3.49 a gallon, with the average at $3.47 a gallon.

North Dakota drivers paid an average of $3.62 a gallon for gas. The Minnesota average is $3.37 a gallon, according to gasbuddy.

AAA spokesman Gene LaDoucer said the lower gas prices are being enjoyed around the nation and he expects them to continue to drift lower, at least through Thanksgiving.

Why? There’s a few reasons.

Consumers have cut back on driving after the summer road-trip season.

Refiners have switched over to cheaper winter fuel blends, and refinery and pipeline problems turned out to not have created as big of a problem as expected, LaDoucer said.

Instead of fuel shortages, there’s a glut of fuel that has to be moved. Crude oil prices that were up in the $112 a barrel range are now between $85 and $86.

“Savings are now being passed on to consumers,” LaDoucer said.

LaDoucer predicts the North Dakota statewide average for a gallon of unleaded could drop as low as between $3.30 and $3.40.

Fargo’s competitive market has already leveraged a lot of savings, LaDoucer said, but it could drive the average 10 to 15 cents lower than the statewide average.

Meanwhile, at the Little Dukes just off 13th Avenue South, Fargoan Marcus Kornkven figures prices should be even better.

“I’d like to see them cheaper as we’re producing oil in this state,” Kornkven said.

He fills the tank in his Toyota Corolla once a week, estimating he could save $50 to $75 a month. That doesn’t include what he’ll put into his Suburban.

“That’s an extra $50 or $75 I can pitch in for Thanksgiving dinner or extra Christmas presents for my family,” Kornkven said.

AAA recently reported that because of the decline in wholesale gas prices, some parts of Ohio, Missouri and rural Illinois and Indiana are seeing prices flirting with $3 a gallon.

Last year at this time, the average price of gas nationally was $3.44 a gallon, AAA reports

AAA says the North Dakota average for a gallon of unleaded gas last year at this time was $3.56. In Fargo, the average was $3.40 a gallon; Grand Forks, $3.52 and Bismarck, $3.53.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583