GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - KARE 11 received a spirited VERIFY email on gas prices asking, "Why are we being ripped off at the pump?"
Preben Hansen in Milaca writes, "We (in Minnesota) don't get our gas from the South, and there is no shortage. Greed is the only explanation."
Let's ask our VERIFY source about this.
Patrick DeHaan is a fuel and oil analyst at Gasbuddy, which calls itself a leading source for the most accurate, real-time fuel prices in the U.S.
First, though, yes.
Gas prices are up 18 cents in Minnesota this week, averaging just under $2.50 a gallon.
Still, that's the 10th cheapest for any state in the nation.
Cory Hepola: "All right, Patrick, we in Minnesota don't get our gas from the south and there is no shortage. Is that true?"
Patrick DeHaan: "Yes, we are not in the south and there is no shortage, thankfully, in the Twin Cities."
Hepola: "So, then, why are gas prices continuing to rise here?"
DeHaan: "Gasoline refineries in the Midwest, which produce gasoline for the Midwest, are now starting to send gasoline down to the Gulf."
Dehaan adds that Harvey slowed down about 25 percent of the nation's refineries; that has pushed gas prices to its highest number in over two years, although probably not for long.
"We've seen a sustained period of very low prices thanks to the relatively low price of crude oil. And, we will likely get back to some of those lower prices that we saw in a matter of a few weeks," said DeHaan.
And, what about Hurricane Irma, which appears to be traveling toward Florida? Could that affect gas prices?
"The major difference between Harvey and Irma is that Harvey set its sights on much of the Gulf Coast refining and oil production. Irma is looking to hit Florida; there are no refineries in Florida, no off-shore oil rigs in Florida," said DeHaan.
As for Mr. Hansen's final question, is greed really the only explanation?
"I know it's very tempting to say that this is greed, but this is the free market. What's happening when prices are shooting up is a real disruption to gasoline supply," said DeHaan.
Patrick DeHaan, fuel and oil analyst, GasBuddy