New Year brings relief at the gas pump in DuluthMotorists have good reason to welcome 2013, as gasoline prices in Duluth continue their decline following what nationally was a record-high year for fuel costs.
By: Steve Kuchera, Duluth News Tribune
Motorists have good reason to welcome 2013, as gasoline prices in Duluth continue their decline following what nationally was a record-high year for fuel costs.
The price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas dropped in recent days below $3 per gallon at many stations around Duluth.
Numerous Duluth stations are cheaper than the $3.04 to $3.12 GasBuddy.com listed for stations in Cloquet and the $3.09 to $3.12 for Two Harbors — two cities where prices often are lower than in Duluth.
The decline in gas prices is a nice change from much of 2012, the most expensive year for gas prices on record, with a national average price of $3.60 a gallon. The highest daily national average during the year was $3.94 a gallon on April 5 and 6. National average prices came close to $4 a gallon again in early September.
“Prices have been on a fairly significant decline since the second week in September,” said Gail Weinholzer, director of public affairs for AAA Minnesota-Iowa. “Since then, we have seen across Minnesota anywhere from an 80- to 90-cent decline.”
Gas prices across Minnesota haven’t been this low since December 2010, Weinholzer said.
Several factors are responsible for the slide in prices: Demand for gas decreases after the summer travel season; the Gulf Coast region made it through the hurricane season without significant damage; and supplies have switched to winter-grade fuel, which is less-expensive to make.
Further helping the price, the political situation in the Middle East has stabilized somewhat.
“Crude oil prices therefore have stopped doing the yo-yo effect that they were doing much of the year,” Weinholzer said.
On Thursday, the national average was $3.29, according to fuelgaugereport.aaa.com. The Minnesota average was $3.05; Wisconsin’s was $3.21,
The average price in Duluth at 3 a.m. Thursday was $3.06. That’s compared to $3.37 a month ago and $3.27 a year ago. Duluth’s highest-ever average was $4.05, set on July 14, 2008. The national highest-ever average of $4.11 was set three days later.
In good news for motorists, analysts expect gas prices to remain relatively stable and low for the short term.
“It is virtually impossible to make accurate predictions on the long term, because crude oil is such a volatile commodity,” Weinholzer said. “Its price bounces around quite a bit depending on what’s going on in the political world, the economic world, environmentally.”