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Devastation In Japan Leads To Drop In Gas Prices

DES PLAINES, Ill. (CBS) -- Gas prices are still hovering around $4 per gallon in Chicago, but the disaster in Japan could actually bring them down a bit.

As CBS 2's Susanna Song reports, the average price of regular unleaded in Chicago is $3.71, about 1 cent cheaper than a week ago. At the Des Plaines Oasis Mobil station Monday morning, the price was $3.73 for regular, and $3.97 for super unleaded.

Now experts say in the short-term, the prices could continue to fall because of the devastation in Japan.

The tragedy of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan last Friday has halted the fast-paced Japanese society, leading to a decline in the demand in oil there, and thus, a drop in worldwide oil prices and gas prices here at home.

AAA says Japan is the third largest consumer of crude oil.

Back in the U.S., in the past month, gas prices have surged up 37 cents, as a result of anxiety over unrest in the Middle East and North Africa.

While gas prices are starting to fall now, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is also calling on President Obama to help bring gas prices down in the long-term.

"As families and businesses are facing these high gas prices, I'll be working with President Obama to urge him to release the strategic petroleum reserves so we can start stabilizing and bring these gas prices down," Durbin said.

Experts say this week, prices will likely drop about 1 to 2 cents because of the woes in Japan. But it's unclear how the prices will look in the coming weeks.

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