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Illinois Refinery Shutdowns Boost Minnesota Prices

According to the regional American Automobile Association, the extended inactivity of two Chicago-area refineries is wreaking havoc on gas prices two states over. According to Minnesota Public radio:

“Gail Weinholzer, the director of public affairs for AAA Minnesota-Iowa, said due to the inoperative refineries, gas prices in the upper Midwest/Great Lakes region are spiking. She notes that the average price in Minnesota was $3.85 a gallon Wednesday morning, well above the national average of $3.59 a gallon.

‘We do not expect there to be any relief for the Upper Midwest/Great Lakes region until probably late June to early July,’ said Weinholzer.

Weinholzer said many stations in Minnesota are reporting prices over $4, including some in the Twin Cities charging $4.19 a gallon.

Unfortunately, there appears to be no hope for relief in the very near future. The Star Tribune elaborates on the depth and breadth of the problem:

…the high gas prices will remain with us for a while, possibly through the July Fourth holiday. Weinholzer [of AAA Minnesota] said reduced capacity due to the closures of two large refineries in the Chicago area is the main culprit in driving the prices up.

The two refineries, which supply much of the gas supply for the Upper Midwest, are offline and might not resume operations before Memorial Day, she said. Even then, there might not be any relief.

‘Restarting a refinery is not like flipping an electrical switch,’ she said. ‘It takes time to ramp up, and other issues, glitches can occur.’

Sudden price shocks like this serve as a persistent reminder to consumers and fleet managers everywhere. Although trends predict lower prices nationally through the summer, these common refinery problems can often cause large and unexpected fluctuations in prices all over a given region.

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