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June 13, 2018
Motorists Digging Deeper to Fuel Up

North Dakota Drivers Spending $68 More a Month for Gas; Won’t Stop Summer Travel
 

North Dakota consumers are spending $68 more a month to fill-up their vehicle gas tanks compared to last summer.

With the regular gasoline average through today running about 12 percent higher than one year ago, North Dakotans are spending, on average, 7.5 percent of annual income on gas, up from 6.1 percent in 2017. Nationally, the average is 7 percent.

With strong summer consumer gasoline demand expected in the months ahead, motorists can expect little relief at the pump, according to AAA. The North Dakota statewide average is expected to range between $2.85 and $3.05 through Labor Day.

“Motorists can expect to spend at least $250 more on gas this summer, but that’s not expected to stop them from traveling,” says Gene LaDoucer, North Dakota spokesman for AAA-The Auto Club Group. “Summer in the upper Midwest is travel time. The higher gas prices may just encourage vacationers to shorten their driving distance, eat out less or engaging in less-expensive activities.”

According to a AAA survey conducted earlier this year, only one in three (36 percent) respondents from the Midwest said they would change travel plans if gas prices hit $3, while half (50 percent) said $3.50 would be the game changer for their summer plans.

Then and Now

As vacationers hit the road, they will find a quarter (25 percent) of all gas stations across the country are selling gas for more than $3 per gallon. That is a stark difference from one year ago when only 5 percent of stations topped the $3 mark. The chart below shows the percentage of stations in North Dakota and nearby states selling gas for $3.01 or more today. One year ago no stations within these states were selling gas for $3.01 or more.
 

 
State

June 2018: Percentage of gas station selling $3.01+

Iowa

4%

Minnesota

0%

Montana

15%

Nebraska

11%

North Dakota

11%

South Dakota

18%

Wisconsin

4%

Wyoming

25%

Fuel Saving Tips
 

  • When driving this summer, AAA offers these tips to improve your fuel mileage:
  • Observe the speed limit. Not only is it safer, it can help you save money.
  • Lose the weight. The heavier your car, the more fuel it uses.
  • Accelerate gradually; avoid jackrabbit starts.
  • Drive during cooler parts of the day. Cooler, denser air can boost power and mileage.
  • Maintain recommended tire pressure. Low pressure reduces fuel economy and can damage tires.

 
The Outliers

Nationally, gas prices have shown some downward movement since Memorial Day, but it is too early to determine if this is a trend, according to AAA, which has identified the following outliers that could drive gas prices – up or down – in the coming months:

 

  • OPEC - This year, global demand has outpaced global supply, which has driven the cost of crude oil to near-three year highs of $72/bbl in May. Since Memorial Day there have been conflicting reports that OPEC – which made a pact with other large producers to cut crude production in 2017 to help drain the then-glut of global supply – may or may not increase production to help ease supply concerns. OPEC may announce a decision at its next meeting on June 22. Should OPEC and its partners increase supply, motorists would likely see pump prices decrease late summer.

  • Hurricanes - Hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there is a 75 percent chance of a “near- or above-normal” level of major storms this year. The mere threat of a storm could force oil and gasoline companies, especially along the Gulf Coast, to halt gas operations, potentially leading to spikes in gas prices and limited regional supply.

  • Exports – Gasoline exports from the U.S. have grown throughout 2018. In fact, the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA’s) final measurement for March 2018 showed that exports hit 951,000 b/d and became the highest March rate on record. This trend is likely to continue throughout the summer, growing closer to one million b/d, which could help boost gas prices domestically.

  • Demand - According to the EIA’s latest reading for consumer gasoline demand, March 2018 saw nearly 9.45 million b/d, a one percent increase from last year and the strongest demand measurement for a March on record.  AAA expects the high and potentially record-breaking consumer demand trend to continue through the summer.

Motorists can find current gas prices along their route with the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad, and Android. The app can also be used to map a route, find discounts, book a hotel, and access AAA roadside assistance. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

Contact(s):

Gene LaDoucer
phone: 701.893.3759
About The Auto Club Group

The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America.  ACG and its affiliates provide membership, insurance, financial services and travel offerings to over 9.5 million members across eleven states and two U.S. territories including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois and Minnesota; and a portion of Indiana.  ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 58 million members in the United States and Canada and whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel, and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.
 


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