Gas prices rise ahead of Labor Day weekend

Average still lower than this time last year

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Gas prices have increased as travelers prepare to hit the road over Labor Day weekend, but continue to remain below previous holiday weekends.

A report released Aug. 24 by the Iowa Department of Agriculture showed the average price of unleaded regular gas at the pump increased nine cents to $2.25 per gallon from $2.16 per gallon the previous week.

At the same time, diesel closed the week out at $2.36 per gallon, rising 7 cents per gallon in a week.

At some convenience stores in Cedar Rapids, owners intend to keep the prices down for travelers.

Courtney Capps, cashier at Cenex Convenience Store, 502 E Ave. NW in Cedar Rapids, said she expects the prices to drop anywhere from a penny to 5 cents a gallon by Friday.

“If we stay lower than places around here, it brings a lot of gas business,” Capps said.

Regular unleaded gasoline cost an average $2.27 per gallon in Iowa on Thursday, according to AAA Minnesota Iowa.

In Cedar Rapids, the auto club said the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline stood at $2.22 Thursday. Nationwide, the average for regular gasoline was $2.23 on Thursday.

The average price of diesel in Iowa was $2.36 per gallon last week, according to Iowa Department of Agriculture. Last year at this time, diesel cost an average $2.50 per gallon.

See also: Iowans are driving — and dying — on highways more

Prices at the pump still remain low in comparison previous years, according to AAA. The statewide average is 24 cents per gallon lower than it was a year ago, Weinholzer said.

Gail Weinholzer, director of public affairs with AAA in Minnesota and Iowa, said consumers can expect fuel prices to rise due to reduced supply and an increase in crude oil prices.

A BP refinery in Whiting, Ind., which supplies fuel to most of the Midwest, cut production for maintenance work and caused supplies to tighten, Weinholzer said. Production at the refinery should return to normal this week.

Weinholzer said prices for crude oil have increased over the last month in advance of a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in November. OPEC has considered cutting supply in the past, Weinholzer said, and producers are preparing for that possibility.

The price of crude oil on the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) rose in August by 41 cents to $46.74 per barrel, the Department of Agriculture reported. At the same time, crude oil from Brent was priced around $48 per barrel.

A year ago, West Texas Intermediate sold for $38.24 per barrel and Brent for $41.59 per barrel.

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