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Gas prices at levels not seen since 2009

Gas prices continue to tumble in the Northland and across the country, with local prices well under $2 a gallon and the nationwide average at its lowest point since 2009.Duluth- and Superior-area stations were selling regular unleaded gasoline fr...

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A motorist places the nozzle back in the gas pump after filling up at a Kwik Trip in West Duluth on Wednesday morning. Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com

Gas prices continue to tumble in the Northland and across the country, with local prices well under $2 a gallon and the nationwide average at its lowest point since 2009.
Duluth- and Superior-area stations were selling regular unleaded gasoline from about $1.85 to $1.88 a gallon on Wednesday, with prices as low as $1.79 in the Cloquet area.
Statewide in Minnesota, prices were averaging $1.94 on Wednesday - down 31 cents a gallon from a month ago, and nearly 60 cents a gallon from a year ago, according to price-tracking website GasBuddy.com.
In Wisconsin, the statewide average stood at $1.90 a gallon, down 45 cents from a month ago and 74 cents from a year ago.
And nationwide, the average price of a gallon of gas was about $2.01 on Wednesday - down from $2.22 a month ago and $2.65 a year ago. That’s a level not seen since early 2009 during the Great Recession, GasBuddy reported.
“High oil production will likely continue to boost already record-high oil inventories, keeping gasoline prices somewhat subdued,” Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy senior petroleum analyst, said earlier this week.
The site reported that the Midwest in particular, compared to other parts of the country, has seen steep drops in gas prices in recent weeks thanks to an increase in gasoline supply and refineries processing deeply discounted crude oil from Canada.
Benchmark Brent crude settled down 15 cents at $40.11 a barrel on Wednesday, after earlier hitting a near seven-year low at $39.57.
PIRA Energy, a New York-based global oil consultant, said it expected crude prices to be under further pressure as onshore oil storage was likely to run out by the first quarter.
“Brent crude prices will continue to struggle due to a large global commercial oil stock surplus, which PIRA estimates will total 500 million barrels above normal levels by end-2015,” it said.
Oil tumbled after Friday’s OPEC meeting that all but abandoned price support for crude through production cutting the group once resorted to.
OPEC also failed for the first time in decades to agree to a production ceiling. Instead, its core members, led by top crude exporter Saudi Arabia, appeared to be readying for new battles for share in a market with record stockpiles.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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Brett Brisk prepares to gas up at the Lincoln Park Holiday station on Tuesday morning. “Aren’t these prices amazing,” he said. “Instead of $70 to $80 it’s 30 to 40 bucks to fill my truck. It’s nice, especially around Christmas.” Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com

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