The price per gallon for regular unleaded gasoline dipped below the $2 mark Wednesday at some North Dakota gas retailers, including in the Fargo area.
Stores, including the M & H Gasoline Co., 1602 Main Ave. in Fargo, and the Sooper Stop on Sheyenne Street in West Fargo, had their prices set at $1.99.
It's the first time since February 2007 that gas has been available to area drivers for less than $2, according to AAA North Dakota.
Jennifer Swanson, who works at the M & H, described Wednesday's business as "very busy. Wednesdays are usually pretty slow."
Despite the decline in gas prices, down about $1 compared with early October, experts say the low prices may rise again when the economy situation improves.
"Due to the weak economy, the demand for oil dropped," said AAA North Dakota spokesman Gene LaDoucer. "It's all tied to the health of the economy."
The average price of regular unleaded gas in North Dakota was $2.38 as of Wednesday, according to AAA.
The state's average price a year ago was $3.08 and reached an unprecedented high of $4.08 on July 17.
The national average price of unleaded gas was $2.37 Wednesday, a drop of two cents from $2.39 Tuesday, AAA reported.
LaDoucer said Jamestown stations also reported prices less than $2.
"These guys are giving consumers a heck of a deal," said Mike Rud, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Marketers Association. "Unfortunately, it comes at the price of the economy."
Fargo has one of the most competitive gas markets in the country, LaDoucer said. The prices usually follow those set in the Twin Cities, he said.
Minnesota's average price for unleaded gas was $2.13 Wednesday with Minneapolis-St. Paul's average at $2.06: the same price many Fargo gas retailers charged for regular unleaded this week.
LaDoucer said he does not expect another drastic price reduction for some parts of North Dakota while other parts may decrease their prices.
Rud said gas prices could start rising once the economy starts recovering and people start driving more. He also said breaking news events, such as "a bomb here and there can change things in a heartbeat."
The Associated Press reported The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Counties said it would start cutting production by 1.5 million barrels of oil a day. The price per barrel Wednesday was $66.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Benny Polacca at (701) 241-5504