While gasoline prices in Minnesota are increasing, Brainerd and Baxter prices remained lower this morning than in other cities in the state.
Gasoline prices in the state are rising because of a general strike in oil-rich Venezuela and global increases in the cost of crude oil.
According to the Web site Minnesotagasprices.com, the average statewide price for a gallon of unleaded gas was $1.45 Sunday, compared to $1.40 a week before. A year ago the price was $1.19.
The low gas price for regular unleaded in the state was $1.30 in Worthington and the high was $1.53 at several outstate stations.
Most of the convenience stores in Brainerd this morning, including SuperAmerica, Holiday Station Store and Casey's, as well as stores in Baxter, including Little Duke's and Gas Mart, sold a gallon of unleaded gasoline for $1.39. A few stations were higher, at either $1.46 or $1.49.
Customers getting gasoline this morning at SuperAmerica in Brainerd did not seem too surprised by the statewide price increase.
"It doesn't seem too bad," said Jake Miles of Brainerd. "I didn't even notice (the price). It always seems high."
"I don't watch it as close as some people do," said Hal Swanson of Brainerd. "It's down from last week. Overall it's still reasonably priced for a good product. ... It could be worse."
Longtime Brainerd resident Herb Stunek said he does not drive a lot so the cost of gasoline does not affect him much. However, he said he has noticed that area gasoline prices increase during the holidays.
Jim Christensen, Brainerd, was not surprised at prices. He just wishes the price of gasoline would stay more consistent instead of fluctuating so much.
"Prices don't affect me much since I don't travel a lot," he said.
Bill Olmsted of Brainerd, on the other hand, said he is on the road a lot. But he will drive no matter what the gasoline prices are.
Gary Morgan of Brainerd was not happy with the prices.
"It stinks," he said. "Why does it (price) have to fluctuate so much? Last week it was higher and now it is back down. ... Someone's making money."
Gas prices in the Twin Cities and Minnesota are running higher than the national average of $1.43 per gallon. Prices in the Midwest are typically higher than in other areas of the country, in part because of increased regulations and requirements for gas additives, such as ethanol, and distance from suppliers.
Industry analysts blame part of the increase to a spike in crude oil prices. On Friday, crude oil jumped 23 cents to $32.72 a barrel, the highest since November 2000. Since early November, the price of crude oil has jumped 27 percent, or nearly $7 a barrel.
Some analysts are predicting that crude oil could hit $35 a barrel before supplies increase. War with Iraq also could send oil prices higher, experts say.
Part of the squeeze is caused by a strike in Venezuela, the world's fourth-largest producer of oil, which has halted nearly all oil production there.
(This story includes information from The Associated Press.)
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