Minn. gas prices hit $4 a gallon

Gas prices are seeing a sharp spike in Minnesota, contrary to expectations that the end of the summer driving season would ease fuel costs.

Prices are up over $4 a gallon in the Bemidji area, according to the Triple A of Minnesota and Iowa. Those are some of the highest in the nation.

Hurricane Isaac was a big factor, said Triple A spokeswoman Gail Weinholzer. The hurricane's approach prompted oil production to drop in the Gulf of Mexico. That also happened as refineries were preparing for a planned interruption as they switch over to winter fuel production.

"Their switching over starting on the 15th is kind of what put an upward pressure on fuel prices," Weinholzer said. "But it should be relieved significantly as we head into next week and the following week because the switch over has officially begun."

In addition, refinery problems in Chicago and a pipeline problem in Wisconsin this summer have brought prices up in Minnesota, Weinholzer said.

"Minnesota is slightly above the national average. The national average is $3.87 today, and Minnesota's average is $3.95, although I did actually see some stations starting to decline in price even from yesterday," she said.

Prices in Minnesota usually lag the national average, Weinholzer said.

Nationally, the Triple A says it saw the biggest price monthly price rise for any July this summer. A spike in August was the largest since 2005.

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