INVER GROVE HEIGHTS, Minn. (WCCO) — Cindy Schnaith is practically giddy when gassing up these days. It wasn’t more than a month ago that filling up her sport utility vehicle cost her nearly $80 per tankful.

On Tuesday at a Pilot truck stop in Inver Grove Heights, she discovered the price for unleaded gasoline about 50 cents less per gallon than back in September.

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“I was like, thank goodness. Because it’s been tough,” Schnaith said. “It’s been really tough trying to keep up with gas and driving.”

The Twin Cities average price for unleaded gasoline is about $3.46 per gallon according to, the website that tracks prices nationwide.

Minnesota motorists are seeing falling gas prices for several reasons. First, the price of crude oil has fallen to around $86 a barrel. Secondly, the nation’s oil refineries have switched over to the seasonal production of the less expensive winter blends of fuel.

But most importantly, it’s the end of the busy summer driving season that’s having the biggest impact on the pump.

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According to GasBuddy’s senior petroleum analyst, Patrick DeHaan, “Now that we are out of the peak consumption season we’re seeing downward pressure on prices. Not only that, but we’re switching to cheaper winter gasoline and demand is dropping.”

Compared to oil rich North Dakota, Minnesotans are paying significantly less for gasoline. When Del Kimden filled up his vehicle in Grand Forks on Monday, he paid 40 cents more per gallon.

“We’re pumping a lot of oil up in North Dakota — a whole bunch of it. We pay more for gas in the western part of the state than anyplace in the country,” Kimden said.

At 10 bucks a tankful the savings should help everyone’s bottom line.

“Absolutely, especially when you drive an SUV,” Schnaith said.

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Analysts expect prices to stabilize across the Twin Cities between now and the end of the year in the $3.15 to $3.20 per gallon range.