Refinery repairs lead to soaring Minnesota gas pricesThe closure of two Chicago-area refineries for repairs is driving gas prices toward record levels across the Upper Midwest.
By: News Tribune staff, Duluth News Tribune
The closure of two Chicago-area refineries for repairs is driving gas prices toward record levels across the Upper Midwest.
And with the refineries scheduled to be closed for weeks, prices will remain high for some time.
“It’s going to be a very expensive summer in the Upper Midwest,” AAA Minnesota/Iowa spokeswoman Gail Winholzer said.
The average price for a gallon of regular gas in Minnesota was $3.85 Wednesday morning. By early afternoon, most locations were reporting prices “north of $4 a gallon,” Winholzer said.
In Duluth, gas hit $4.19 a gallon at several stations by midafternoon. The highest price in Minnesota was $4.29 at more than one location in the Twin Cities area, according to MinnesotaGasPrices.com.
The all-time, record-high average price for a gallon of gas statewide in Minnesota was $3.98 on July 16, 2008. Duluth hit its record-high average of $4.05 two days earlier.
“We will pass those numbers tomorrow,” Winholzer said Wednesday.
The average Duluth price was $3.45 a month ago, $3.71 a week ago, and $3.89 on Tuesday, according to the AAA. By Wednesday afternoon the average reached $3.91.
A year ago the average price was $3.64 both in Duluth and statewide.
Gas prices typically climb in the spring and fall, when refineries switch blends and often close for maintenance.
“Unfortunately, two of the nation’s largest refineries, both in the Chicago area, decided to close at the same time,” Winholzer said.
The refineries — one owned by BP, the other by Exxon Mobile — expect to be closed for at least six weeks.
“It may be mid-June before we see any signs of relief, and it may not occur before July Fourth,” Winholzer said.