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    Gas Prices Remain Volatile Across the U.S.

    AAA reports fuel prices vary widely by market.

    BURNSVILLE, Minn. -- A statewide average gasoline price in excess of $3 per gallon in California is not likely to be seen in many markets east of the Rocky Mountains this spring, Gail Weinholzer, director of public affairs, AAA Minnesota/Iowa said.

    According to AAA's daily, on-line AAA Fuel Gauge Report (www.aaafuelgaugereport.com), the nationwide price of self-serve regular gasoline is currently $2.545 per gallon; although the statewide average in California is $3.121 per gallon. This wide price discrepancy is primarily due to rising demand for fuel on the west coast, the region's limited refining capacity and strict air quality standards, and its relative isolation from fuel supplies elsewhere in the nation, said Dawn Duffy, manager of public relations, AAA Minneapolis.

    This does not mean that prices will not continue to increase elsewhere in the country during the next few months, but motorists in these regions are not expected to see an average price of -- or above -- $3 per gallon.

    Instead, AAA believes fuel prices will gradually increase as seasonal demand rises and fuel inventories come under now-normal pressure from the production of cleaner-burning, warm-weather fuel. At some point, however, prices will peak and then level off well- shy of $3, AAA believes.

    Motorists concerned about a return of $3 per gallon gasoline this spring should remember that two unusual and extreme events pushed the national average price to that level in 2005 and 2006. The first event was Hurricane Katrina and the damage it did to critical energy infrastructure. The second was Israel’s invasion of Lebanon and the brief threat this posed to oil shipments from the Middle East. While today's price is higher than one year ago, AAA said there are currently no reasons to expect a $3 national average price in 2007.

    According to AAA, the price of self-serve regular gasoline was about twenty cents lower one year ago today at $2.363 per gallon.
    AAA’s fuel price survey shows California has the highest statewide average gas price at $3.121 per gallon. Hawaii is next at $2.906, and Oregon's price is $2.782 per gallon.

    Wyoming has the lowest state-wide average gasoline price in the nation at $2.329 per gallon. South Carolina has the next lowest price at $2.352 per gallon, followed by Utah with an average gas price of $2.358 per gallon.

    Nationwide, the price of self-serve, mid-grade gasoline averages $2.701 per gallon, an increase from $2.351 per gallon in the middle of last month, and up from $2.509 one year ago. Self-serve premium averages $2.799 per gallon nationwide; up from $2.437 one month ago. Premium averaged $2.559 per gallon at this time last year.
    The national average prices for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline for AAA's mid-March survey for the last five years are: 2006, $2.363; 2005, $2.048; 2004, $1.720; 2003, $1.702; and 2002, $1.215.

    AAA's Fuel Gauge Report is based on data from Oil Price Information Service, the nation's most comprehensive source of petroleum pricing information. AAA purchases the data and makes it available free on the Internet as a public service. Average daily prices for the nation, all 50 states and more than 250 localities are available for all grades of gasoline, making the site the most current and complete public source of fuel price information.

    AAA (www.aaa.com) offers automotive, travel, insurance and financial services to 50 million members in the United States and Canada. AAA Minnesota/Iowa is part of The Auto Club Group, with 4.1 million members in eight Midwest States. AAA Minneapolis serves nearly 184,000 members in Hennepin County.

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