Gas down from last month, up from last year
GRAND FORKS - Thanksgiving travelers will get a break at the gas pump, but only if they look to last month instead of last year. Average gas prices in North Dakota on Sunday were down by about 20 cents over the last month, to $3.33 a gallon - tho...
GRAND FORKS - Thanksgiving travelers will get a break at the gas pump, but only if they look to last month instead of last year.
Average gas prices in North Dakota on Sunday were down by about 20 cents over the last month, to $3.33 a gallon - though they edged up 7 cents Monday, according to a website that tracks local gas prices.
The decline is a bit of good news for those driving out of town for the holiday, but it is an increase over a year ago, when statewide prices were averaging $2.83.
"It's certainly much higher than last year," said Patrick DeHaan, an analyst for GasBuddy.com, which maintains the North Dakota site.
On Tuesday, prices in Fargo were between $3.10 and $3.25, according to the observations listed on the website.
The price of a barrel of oil has been volatile recently, reaching above $100 last week before falling back below that mark this week, but the price of unleaded gasoline has not had the same swings, DeHaan said.
Other fuel products, such as diesel, heating oil and jet fuel, are in short supply, leading investors to push up the contract prices for them, he said. At the same time, the market for gasoline contracts is quieter, leaving prices stagnant or lower. Wholesale prices, what gas stations pay for their fuel, are at their lowest point since February.
"You have investors looking for what to invest in, buyers looking for what to buy," DeHaan said.
Weak economic forecasts for the United States and Europe have put prices on a downward trend in recent months, DeHaan said, as energy prices tend to follow economic growth.
Thanksgiving, a four-day holiday for many people, is typically one of the busiest travel weekends in the country, and residents of the upper Midwest tend to travel more than people elsewhere.
According to the AAA travel forecast, 17.1 percent of people in the region that includes North Dakota and Minnesota will travel farther than 50 miles over the weekend, compared to 13.5 percent nationwide.
"About one in six of everybody is going to travel somewhere over the Thanksgiving weekend," said Gene LaDoucer, spokesman for AAA in North Dakota.
Average prices in Minnesota were lower than in North Dakota. Monday's price was $3.19, down from $3.47 one month ago, according to GasBuddy. That price one year ago was 40 cents lower.
The national average Monday was $3.35 a gallon, according to AAA.
DeHaan said prices were following the normal winter trend downward, when less gasoline is consumed.
North Dakota prices compared
Among North Dakota's major cities, Fargo had the lowest price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas cost as of Monday.
Grand Forks: $3.39
Christopher Bjorke writes for the Grand Forks Herald