Gas prices still running high in Minnesota, but relief may be near

Published 6:02 pm Tuesday, September 12, 2023

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By Tim Nelson

The average price of gas across Minnesota has continued to inch up this week, after a significant spike last Thursday and Friday. But there may be relief in the coming days.

Gas prices at many stations in the Twin Cities, Duluth and other parts of the state jumped 30 to 40 cents late last week.

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As other stations have joined them in recent days, the average price of gas in Minnesota ticked up to a fraction below $4 a gallon as of Tuesday, according to AAA.

It’s more than 16 cents above the national average. Patrick De Haan, a petroleum analyst with the price-tracking website GasBuddy, said it’s the highest the Minnesota’s average has been above the national average since 2013.

“There’s been a squeeze on summer gasoline just ahead of the switchback to winter gasoline, and that’s caused the price of summer gasoline to skyrocket,” he said.

And it’s not just Minnesota. AAA reported average gas prices Tuesday of $4.03 in North Dakota, and $3.93 in South Dakota and Iowa. Wisconsin was faring better with a statewide average of $3.62 — but prices were significantly higher in western parts of the state.

De Haan said the Midwest has been hit hard by a planned outage at Flint Hills Resources in Minnesota, as well as unplanned refinery outages in Oklahoma and Indiana.

“Typically, one of the largest — or the largest — refinery in the Midwest, in Whiting, Indiana, outside Chicago, can offer additional supply, because it provides millions of gallons of gasoline on a daily basis. But that refinery also has its largest crude unit down unexpectedly, so it’s just been a story of several refinery snafus that have all happened at the same time,” he said.

Regulations permitting a cheaper winter blend of gasoline, which isn’t required to avoid evaporation as much as summer blends, go into effect Saturday.

De Haan said that winter blend gasoline is already in stock, and should start mitigating prices later this week.