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June gas prices in North Dakota hit 12-year low

An employee holds a gas pump to refill a car at a petrol station in central Seoul April 6, 2011. REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won

GRAND FORKS — Gas price averages for the month of June in North Dakota have hit lows not seen in more than a decade, and consumers could enjoy low prices nationwide in the coming weeks, according to AAA.

The average North Dakota price for gas as of Monday was $2.26 per gallon, according to the automobile association. That's only a penny lower than at this point a year ago, but it's the lowest point gas prices have reached in June since 2005. Stores in Minnesota, a state that tends to follow North Dakota when it comes to gas price trends, were selling gas at a slightly higher average of $2.29.

"As to what we can expect over the next few weeks is that gasoline prices will continue to move lower," said Eugene LaDoucer, a AAA spokesman for North Dakota. "We might see a little bit of a pause here as we approach the Fourth of July holiday, with demand expected to pick up for the holiday."

It not uncommon for gas prices to drop after Memorial Day. Prices across North Dakota were a few cents cheaper than a month ago. But North Dakota's average gas prices as of Tuesday were about 85 cents lower than the June average from 2005 to 2016.

Until June, the national average price this year has trended higher than last year's, with the 2017 price tag staying between $2.25 and $2.50.

Almost every state is seeing averages that are less than a year ago, thanks to "an unexpected buildup of crude oil last week combined with ongoing high gasoline production runs, an increase in gasoline stocks and a drop in gasoline demand," AAA said in a news release last week.

"If refiners continue to produce record amounts of gasoline and oversupply the market, consumers will reap the benefit and see slight fluctuations in gasoline prices ... in coming weeks," AAA said.

LaDoucer agreed, saying production in the U.S. is making up for output cuts put in place by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. Consumers could continue to enjoy low gas prices after the Independence Day holiday, LaDoucer said, but AAA noted prices likely won't drop much further than this week.

The West Texas Intermediate crude price was $44.46 per barrel as of noon Monday, the benchmark price for light and sweet oil. North Dakota light sweet crude was selling for $36.98 per gallon.

North Dakota broke several longtime record lows last year, and June appears to be the first time a longstanding record was broken this year.

North Dakota's all-time high was in May 2013, when drivers were paying an average of $4.24 per gallon in the state. Minnesota's all-time high average came at the same time with $4.28.

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers crime and education. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family raises registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as a city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.

Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.

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