Retail gasoline prices still dropping in North Dakota, but are expected to start rising soon

IndustriesAssociated Press

The average retail price of a gallon of gasoline in North Dakota has dropped further below $2, but prices are expected to start going in the opposite direction soon.

The average price in the state has fallen more than 2 cents during the past week, to $1.97 per gallon, GasBuddy.com reported Monday. The national average is $2.02 per gallon.

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Prices in North Dakota are 42 cents per gallon lower than a month ago and nearly $1.25 lower than a year ago, due to a decline in oil prices. The last time gas prices dropped below $2 in the state was nearly six years ago, in March 2009, according to Gene LaDoucer, North Dakota spokesman for AAA.

Motorists should expect prices to start rising soon, however, GasBuddy Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan said. Refineries have been producing less gas, and there soon will be a seasonal rise in prices as refineries conduct maintenance and shift over to summer gasoline blends.

"Last year's lift began the second week of February and saw the upward trend last until the beginning of May, during which the national average saw a rise of 35 cents a gallon," DeHaan said. "This year we're expecting a similar rise."

LaDoucer said the average price is still likely to remain under $3 for the entire year.