Minneapolis on Friday passed Honolulu for the most expensive gas in the country, at an average of $4.28 per gallon, according to GasBuddy.com.
While the national average has risen just 7 cents per gallon in the past week, the Twin Cities has been hit with a massive 42-cent increase. Twin Cities gas prices are also up nearly 80 cents from last month.
Statewide, Minnesota gas prices average $4.23 per gallon, still behind Hawaii's $4.30 but higher than California's $4.04 average.
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Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for GasBuddy, says there are three factors behind the price increase:
1. Typically low mid-spring inventories in some midcontinent states.
2. The diversion of some supply to Great Lakes markets that saw low refinery output thanks to scheduled heavy maintenance. Exxon's refinery in Joliet, Ill. and BP's in Whiting, Ind. are converting to a summer fuel mix, and Northern Tier in St. Paul Park, Minn. is also partially down for reasons that aren't entirely clear.
3. A major turnaround for a HollyFrontier refinery in East Tulsa is about to remove some production from the Oklahoma and Kansas refinery centers that provide much of the gasoline and diesel for Plains' states.
Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy's senior petroleum analyst, added that a refinery in El Dorado, Kan. also went down in the last 48 hours unexpectedly, adding additional pressure to an already extremely tight market.
IT GETS BETTER
Kloza expects the May price spike to be an episode, rather than a long term trend.
DEMAND FOR ANSWERS, ACTION
Sen. Amy Klobuchar wants to know why three refineries in the Upper Midwest are undergoing scheduled maintenance at the same time.
"I don't think Minnesota should stand and take this," she said.
That's why Klobuchar is asking the Energy Department to coordinate these seasonal shutdowns, to stagger the timing. She says there will always be disruptions in the supply chain, but doesn't believe scheduled maintenance should lead to this kind of shock.
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