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Wendy Reuer, Published January 28 2013

Gas prices on the rise in F-M area

FARGO – Gas prices have jumped nearly 10 cents per gallon the past week across the metro area and will likely continue to rise into the summer travel season.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that prices are not expected to top $4 or even average more than last year’s prices, said AAA spokesman Gene LaDoucer.

LaDoucer said Monday the average price of gasoline in North Dakota was $3.19 per gallon. In Fargo, the average was $3.09, up about 9 cents in the last week.

“But it’s down about 9 cents from a year ago,” he said.

LaDoucer said he isn’t surprised to see prices increase this time of year in anticipation of the summer travel season after falling to below $3 per gallon around the holidays.

He said stations are preparing to switch from the cheaper, winter-grade gasoline to the more expensive summer blends.

Also, gasoline futures have been trading high during a time when inventory levels can be strained as part of the grade turnover process.

Historically, international conflicts – especially those in high oil-producing areas – can cause a spike in gasoline prices, LaDoucer said. But the increasing output of North Dakota oil helps secure lower gasoline prices here.

“With North Dakota being able to have that source of oil, it is helping to put a lid on any sharp increases or volatility like we saw last year,” he said. “Hopefully, we can continue to keep prices somewhat more stable than we have in the past.”

LaDoucer expects a fairly steady, consistent rise in the statewide average price of gasoline to between $3.40 and $3.60 per gallon by May.

“We’re projecting that the highs will be lower than what we saw last year,” he said. “We’ll top out at $3.60 or $3.75, with an average for the year well below that.”

GasBuddy.com, a national gas-price reporting site, shows the cheapest gas in the Fargo-Moorhead area Monday evening was at Sam’s Club, 4831 13th Ave. S, with $2.93 per gallon.

A number of other stations, including Love’s, Tesoro on Main Avenue, Western Fuel and Mills Fleet Farm, were still under $3 at $2.99 per gallon.

Holiday and Tesoro stations in north Fargo and the Petro Shopping Center in south Fargo topped the list with $3.19-per-gallon prices.

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