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Gas prices see uptick in North Dakota, Minnesota

GRAND FORKS, N.D.--Motorists might be seeing higher fuel prices today than they paid just a few weeks ago. The average retail cost for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline has increased by more than 5 cents in the past week, coming out to a Nort...

GRAND FORKS, N.D.-Motorists might be seeing higher fuel prices today than they paid just a few weeks ago.

The average retail cost for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline has increased by more than 5 cents in the past week, coming out to a North Dakota average of about $2.26 per gallon, according to a statewide GasBuddy.com daily survey. At this time last year, the GasBuddy survey indicated the statewide average for a gallon of gas was about $1.85 per gallon.

Gene LaDoucer, a spokesman for the AAA auto club, said he "wouldn't expect (the price increase) to have any significant impact" on levels of travel.

"We're still at multiyear lows for gas prices," LaDoucer said. "We might even expect prices to fall again now that we've made it through the holidays."

He said he doesn't anticipate travel being seriously affected by increasing fuel costs until prices approach the $3-per-gallon mark, a cost he said is unlikely given the current trading prices for crude oil. LaDoucer predicted an annual average gas price for 2017 as falling between $2.40 and $2.60 per gallon.

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To start off the week, Grand Forks gas stations were selling a gallon of gas for about $2.29. Motorists in Fargo were refueling for a little more than $2.17 per gallon, according to GasBuddy.

In Minnesota, statewide gas averages increased just a little bit more slowly over the past week than in North Dakota, with a price gain of about 4.5 cents per gallon. Across the state, the average price came out to just less than $2.32 per gallon to start the week. Polk County drivers found a less expensive fill-up at about $2.28 per gallon.

GasBuddy data indicates gas prices in the past week increased at a slower rate across the country than in either Minnesota or North Dakota at about 2.1 cents per gallon, though the national average cost is still higher than in both states at a total price of about $2.37 per gallon.

Even at that cost, LeDoucer said the country is still in a good position in terms of cost. In 2016, he said, motorists experienced an average annual gas price of $2.06 per gallon, a low cost that hasn't been beat since 2004.

"There's only one way but up when you're coming from levels like that," LeDoucer said.

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