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Erik Burgess, Published May 16 2013

Gas prices across region shoot up; Fargo's jump 30 cents in a week

FARGO – Empty tanks may lead to empty wallets here in the coming weeks, as the price of a gallon of gas has leapt 30 cents in the past week and is expected to stay in the $4 range.

The average cost of a gallon of regular unleaded gas in Fargo was $3.90 by 6 p.m. Thursday, nearly 30 cents higher than the national average of $3.63, according to GasBuddy.com.

Prices in Fargo on Thursday were as low as $3.69 a gallon in a few spots, but many had hit $3.99, according to the website that tracks local gas prices.

A week ago, the average price in Fargo for a gallon of regular unleaded was $3.61. A month ago, it was $3.43 a gallon. The average on Thursday was up a dime from Wednesday.

The statewide average in North Dakota on Thursday was just above $4.

Minnesota and the Twin Cities metro hit all-time record highs for gas prices on Thursday with drivers paying more than $4 a gallon, according to Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy.

“Pump prices have never been higher in those two areas,” DeHaan wrote in a Thursday blog post.

The trend is likely to extend to North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma and parts of Missouri, DeHaan said.

One reason for the high prices, he wrote, is that gasoline produced in the plains states was partially diverted to the Great Lakes area a few weeks ago when refineries there went done. A Tulsa, Okla., refinery also recently went down for planned maintenance, and a refinery in El Dorado, Kan., went down unexpectedly. Less supply means higher prices.

DeHaan said the problems are likely to last for another week or two.

“High prices may linger if motorists continue to flood en masse to fill their vehicles,” he said.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., asked the U.S. Department of Energy on Thursday to investigate the steep increase in Minnesota gas prices, doubting that the temporary closures of refineries could have such an impact. In a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Klobuchar called on the Energy Department to examine the timing of scheduled maintenance operations to prevent future supply shocks.

The average price Thursday afternoon for a gallon of unleaded gasoline in Minnesota was nearly $4.18 by 6 p.m., up from $3.46 a month ago, according to gasbuddy.com.