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Gas prices jump 30-plus cents, possible relief in sight

While the hike was fairly sudden and unexpected, analysts believe pump prices will level off, or even decline in coming days.

MINNEAPOLIS — A significant price jump at the pump has left Minnesota motorists shaking their heads the past few days, as the cost of a gallon leapt more than 30 cents with little warning. 

Fuel app GasBuddy says the average price for unleaded across the Twin Cities was up 32.1 cents in the past week to an average of $4.02, according to its regular survey of 1,106 gas stations. The cheapest station in the metro was at $3.35 per gallon, while the most expensive was $4.29, a difference of 95 cents that underlines how much comparing prices can save. 

Last week petroleum analysts, including GasBuddy's Patrick De Haan, raised a red flag in predicting a dramatic increase in gas prices, especially in the Midwestern corn belt states that include Minnesota, that could approach $1 per gallon. The predicted hike was blamed on refinery outages and a dramatic reduction in oil production by both Saudi Arabia and Russia. 

"The second half (of last week) saw the national average rise as gas prices in the Corn Belt started spiking, pulling the average price in the US along with it," said De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. "In addition, the West Coast saw more refinery snags, pushing gas prices higher, and so areas of the West Coast got punched along with the Corn Belt states. Over 10 states saw prices rise by over 10 cents per gallon compared to last week, while some like Iowa and Minnesota have seen average prices spike by over 30 cents per gallon."

Current Twin Cities fuel prices are 18.4 cents higher than a month ago, and 31.1 cents more expensive than a year ago. The rise isn't as dramatic in Wisconsin, where the cost of a gallon is up just 7.6 cents over last week. 

De Haan said there may be better news ahead for those in the hardest-hit states in the Midwest, as gasoline prices should start to level off and even decline by mid-week. And with most of the nation switching back to cheaper winter gasoline blends on Saturday, there could be even more price decreases in the weeks ahead.

Wild cards do remain in play, however, in the form of more refinery disruptions and hurricane season. Still, analysts do remain hopeful. 

"Fall tends to bring falling gas prices," De Haan ruminated, "and I'm hoping this year won't be any different."


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