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Rising Gas Prices Frustrate Minnesota Drivers

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Less than a week after a refinery explosion in northern Wisconsin, people are noticing a spike in gas prices. Greenery may still be limited, but at "Wash Me" on Nicollet, it's open season for a good scrub down.

Last week's explosion in Superior sent multiple people to the hospital and forced the entire town to evacuate their homes. This explosion has nothing to do with the increase, despite prices surging more than 10 cents in the Duluth area.

In the Twin Cities, the gasoline is up 7 cents. WCCO looks at why this is happening and how you can compensate for the surge.

Car owners spent Monday lining up at Wash Me Car Wash on Nicollet in Minneapolis. Todd Fierst is a courier so his car is his office.

"Perfect day, I haven't done it since fall," he said of his wash.

Ashley Olson is a road warrior, too. She says she drives 100 miles a day so she's very aware that gas prices are up 6 cents in a week.

"I have a truck that I won't drive because of the gas prices," she said.

Charlie, who oversees the wash is shaking his head, too.

"Gas is already high enough as it is, I remember when gas was like $1.25 a  gallon when I was coming up," he said.

Experts confirm things have changed. Patrick DeHaan is the Head of Petroleum Analysis at GasBuddy. He talked with WCCO via Skype.

"Forty-nine of the nation's 50 states saw gas prices go up in the last week and all of it has to do with the price of oil which remains relatively high," DeHaan said.

The Boston-based analyst says less oil is being produced so inventory is low, and with the U.S. exporting so much crude oil demand is high and so are prices.

And about that Superior oil refinery fire last week?

"The refinery in question doesn't really supply a whole lot of areas, it's not producing much gasoline and secondly, it's rather small so this should not really have an impact on gas prices at all," DeHaan said.

He says it may have a small effect in the surrounding area.

He predicts Twin Cities car owners will likely see prices increase this summer but not over $3 like in 2014.

"We've had it good for the last few years, gas prices in the low $2 range.  This year for Minnesota, this summer we'll be talking about gas prices in the mid to upper $2 a gallon range," he said.

No one wants to run out of gas. So here are a few easy ways to compensate for the surge. Some gas stations have loyalty programs where you can save 5 cents a gallon, some charge you less if you use cash and some credit cards give rebates on gas.

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