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A glimpse at gas prices

Press Photo by Beth Wischmeyer Dustin Rau of Dickinson fills up his car at Frankie's West Side Conoco Saturday. Rau said rising gas prices haven't affected him too much.

Gas prices continually climbed in 2009 and 2010 is expected to bring relatively stable gas prices, an AAA spokesperson said.

Gene LaDoucer, spokesperson for AAA, said the agency is still seeing a weak demand for gasoline.

"Going forward, I would think would keep gasoline prices somewhat steady at least through the early part of 2010," LaDoucer said. "As we approach the summer driving season, we're going to have to see what the economy is doing at that time, and what the indicators say for increased travel at that time."

LaDoucer said there is potential that gas prices could move considerably higher if the economy improves quickly throughout 2010.

"As of right now it looks like that isn't going to happen," LaDoucer said. "It looks like it's going to be a slower recovery and for that reason I would expect gasoline prices would remain relatively stable or continue to move higher at a slow rate."

Dickinson resident Dustin Rau said it costs about $75 to fill up his truck's empty tank.

The prices haven't really bothered him, he said.

"I just drive to work," Rau said. "When we travel, we usually try and take the car."

A gradual climb in gasoline prices during 2009 stand in stark contrast to the price swings witnessed in 2008, according to a press release from AAA.

The year's lowest average price for a gallon of self serve regular in North Dakota was recorded on Jan. 2, 2009 at $1.69, according to AAA's daily Fuel Gauge Report. The state's highest average recorded price in 2009 occurred on June 21 at $2.74. The average at year end stands at $2.67.

Barry Hagbom, of Townsend, Mont., said he travels frequently for work, but hasn't decreased the amount of times he's filled up.

"I still have to get around," Hagbom said while filling up at a Cenex in Dickinson Saturday.

If 2010 gas prices continue to rise, Hagbom said he probably won't cut back on work driving, but possibly driving for vacations.

LaDoucer said AAA is expecting a 15 percent increase in travel over last year in the west/north central region, which includes North Dakota, but is still well below the record number of travelers that was seen four years ago.

"We're not exactly sure what the weather did," LaDoucer said. "Because of the two-week holiday, and most people drive, we expect that most of the people who planned to travel actually did, they just adjusted their plans a bit."