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Dickinson gas prices continue to decline: Saturday price down 75 cents from 2012 high

Dickinson resident Gary Jilek fills up his pickup truck Saturday afternoon at Simonson's on East Villard. A small business owner, he operates the rental service "Jumpers to Go," Jilek, like many other drivers, has welcomed lowered gas prices of late.

Prices have been going down at the pump and it's a trend that could continue into 2013.

A welcomed sight for motorists and many businesses alike, the price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline dipped to $3.24 at many service stations in Dickinson this weekend. Down nearly 40 cents just in the past month, the price is about 75 cents cheaper than 2012 highs in the city.

"It's something I'm very happy to see," said Dickinson resident Gary Jilek as he filled up at Simonson's Station Store on East Villard Saturday afternoon. "Gas prices affect everybody from drivers to companies and other businesses. It could go down another 50 cents and I wouldn't mind at all."

A report released Wednesday by AAA North Dakota put the statewide average for a gallon of gas at $3.15, which is down from November's average of $3.47.

"As always, there are a number of factors that fuel prices hinge on," said Gene LaDoucer of AAA. "This is usually the seasonal trend and we've also had soft demand and higher inventory levels nationally of late. Prices have been falling, which is what consumers like to see, and they could fall a little further still before spring."

LaDoucer said gas prices will likely pick up again -- as they usually do -- sometime in early 2013, but he also said he doesn't think it's likely prices will reach the highs seen last summer, when motorists were paying nearly $4 for a gallon of gas in Dickinson.

"The summer driving season is much busier -- people kind of hunker down during the colder months," LaDoucer said. "As far as a bottom for this drop, we probably have about 10 more cents to go through the month of January. But things can change quickly with oil prices depending on geopolitical circumstances and other factors."

LaDoucer added that oil prices have remained steady in recent weeks, something he said was a "welcomed sight." Light sweet crude oil ended the day up slightly Friday to finish at $86.81 after trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

"Oil has been down some lately, so that's what gas prices should do too," Jilek said. "I don't have an oil well, so it can keep going down and that would be just fine with me."

For now, motorists in southwest North Dakota are enjoying the early Christmas present of lower prices at the pump, although statewide, Dickinson trails only Williston for the highest average cost for a gallon of gas among North Dakota's six most populated cities.

"Prices are down now, but remember, one refinery outage somewhere could change that," LaDoucer said.

Bryan Horwath
A Wisconsin native, Horwath has been covering news in the Oil Patch of North Dakota since 2012. Horwath currently serves as the senior agriculture and political reporter for The Dickinson Press and, despite the team's tendency to always let him down, remains a diehard Minnesota Vikings fan.
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