MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Gasoline prices have climbed across Minnesota in keeping with a national trend of higher energy prices, blamed on fears over war in Iraq, a general strike in Venezuela that has slashed oil production there and a cold winter.
Local energy market observers say gasoline prices are headed even higher.
Prices could reach $1.75 to $1.79 a gallon in the Twin Cities this week and could go still higher next week, said Jason Toews, who runs Web sites that list daily prices at Twin Cities and Minnesota gas stations.
For Twin Cities motorists, a gallon of unleaded regular has risen 20 cents in a month and is 49 cents a gallon over the average price a year ago. Those figures -- from $1.11 a year ago to $1.60 Monday -- were from the American Automobile Association.
Toews' Web sites -- http://www.twincitiesgasprices.com and http://www.MinnesotaGasPrices.com -- showed prices going up even more -- 54 cents, from $1.05 a year ago to $1.59 in the Twin Cities Tuesday.
The sites showed metro area prices ranging from $1.49 to $1.75 on Tuesday. The situation was similar in Greater Minnesota, with prices averaging $1.62 and ranging from $1.52 to $1.72.
Toews predicted that $1.75 would be the price consumers see most often within the next few days, though the average will be several cents lower because not all stations will raise prices that high. The same is true of his prediction for another increase next week.
"It's a little early to say, but we could be in the $1.80s, depending on the wholesale price of gas and of crude oil," he said.
Gas station owners are seeing their costs go up almost daily, said Kurt Bohnen, president of the Minnesota Service Station Association. "Our (distributors) don't tell us why they're going up. They say, 'Hey, here's the new price.' ... Every time you get a load of gas, you pay more."
But stations might not raise their prices daily, and by the time they add several increases together, consumers may get a 10- or 15-cent jump, Bohnen said.
Darrel Bunge, executive director of the Minnesota Petroleum Council, said he's heard of no shortages.
"The price might be higher, but at least there's (gas) available," she said.
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