Reporting Sara Pelissero
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — “When did that happen?” is the question most motorists are asking Wednesday, after seeing the latest price for a tank of gas.
Gas prices shot up to more than $4 statewide overnight — the highest being reported as $4.25 in the west metro, according to Gail Weinholzer, director of public affairs for AAA Minnesota/Iowa.
Even at Costco, which is typically the cheapest for gas, is reporting $4.09, she said.
And unfortunately, Weinholzer said there’s no relief on the way.
“What’s interesting is that over the last month we’ve seen about a 30-cent increase and yet, we’ve also seen a 30-cent increase today alone,” she said. “We started the day at an average in Minnesota of about $3.85 and virtually every place that I’ve talked to today is reporting in excess of $4.19.”
Weinholzer said on Thursday, we’ll “shatter” the previous record for the highest statewide average for gas. The previous record was $3.98 in July 16, 2008.
“Tomorrow morning we will report the highest statewide average that has ever occurred in the state of Minnesota,” she said.
The reason for this crazy price hike?
Two large refineries in the Chicago area — one owned by BP, the other owned by Exxon Mobil — have shut down for an extended period of time for maintenance, Weinholzer said.
“It’s not unusual for refineries to close for a week or so for maintenance but when I say ‘extended,’ one of these facilities has been closed since the middle of April and neither of them will restart before Memorial Day,” she said.
That means the supply has been severely constricted and subsequently, prices have shot up.
For those of you that typically try to wait it out and refill when the price drops again, you may be waiting longer than you’d like.
Weinholzer said we will not see any relief in prices at the pump before mid-June and there’s a chance we won’t see any significant relief before the Fourth of July.
“This is affecting the entire upper Midwest, from North Dakota to Michigan,” she said.
Rumors that the gas spike has something to do with the upcoming Memorial Day weekend — and big traveling weekend at that — are false, Weinholzer said.
“That is absolutely not the case,” she said. “There’s a significant portion of the country paying significantly less for gas than we are.”
Weinholzer said their website, fuelgaugereport.com shows a graphic where motorists can see this rise in gas prices is only hitting the Midwest region.