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Published September 04, 2010, 12:00 AM

Lower demand, unchecked supply keep summer gas prices stable

As the summer travel season comes to a close this weekend, there’s one thing it probably won’t be remembered for: gas prices.

As the summer travel season comes to a close this weekend, there’s one thing it probably won’t be remembered for: gas prices.

In fact, prices at the pump have remained relatively flat for the past year.

The average monthly gasoline price in Fargo has fluctuated by only 37 cents during the past 12 months, from a low of $2.46 a gallon last September to a high of $2.83 a gallon in April.

Gene LaDoucer of North Dakota AAA said drivers can thank the lack of major disruptions in supply, high inventory levels and weak demand for gasoline among travelers and industry in the struggling economy.

The stable gas prices are a far cry from the wild fluctuations seen in 2008, when the average monthly price in Fargo jumped from $2.93 in January to $3.86 in June and then plummeted to $1.59 in December.

“Gas prices have just kind of been drifting along with oil prices,” which have lingered in the range of $70 to $80 per barrel, LaDoucer said.

It was unusual this year to see gas prices spike in April and then drop during the busy summer travel season, LaDoucer said. He expects prices to continue to fall after Labor Day, but probably not significantly lower than North Dakota’s five-year average of $2.66 a gallon.

However, prices could spike if hurricanes disrupt supplies or the economy gains steam and boosts demand, he said.

Gasoline prices don’t seem to be a hot topic with travelers now, which is encouraging for automobile travel, LaDoucer said.

Nationwide, AAA predicts a 9.9 percent in­crease in Labor Day weekend travelers this year, with 91 percent of those taking trips expected to do so by automobile.

The increase in travelers is expected to be even greater, at 11 percent, in the seven-state region that includes Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528

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