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DL enjoys lower gas prices

Gas prices dropped to $2.51 a gallon Tuesday in Detroit Lakes.

Gas prices are dropping, but that doesn't mean more drivers are filling up.

Local gas prices dropped to $2.51 per gallon this week, which is about 20 cents less than the average price in Minnesota one month ago.

"People have kind of forgotten about it," said Casey's General Store Manager Shelly Buck. "It's something you need ... and if you need it you're going to pay whatever it is to get it."

Lower gas prices are a sign the national and international economy are still recovering, which is another reason why people aren't simply taking more trips and vacations.

The reason for the increased traffic in the area as of late are the activities offered to residents and visitors.

Detroit Lakes Chamber of Commerce President Kris Tovson said it's difficult to credit the increased traffic to lower gas prices.

"People don't go places without a purpose," she said. "It's either shopping or an event or to visit somebody."

Why prices are dropping

Professor and chair of the Minnesota State University Moorhead economics department, Douglas Greenley, said because more countries are having credit problems and difficulty paying off bonds, the overall worldwide economy is suffering.

"And when economies are weak, there is not as much being sold, that includes oil and gas," he said.

Additionally, as more oil companies lay off workers, the demand continues to decrease.

Greenley added that oil refineries are producing well below capacity, a cause for the low demand.

"It's very difficult to raise their prices until they get at least 80 percent capacity," Greenley said. "When they get to that point, then we'll begin to see gasoline prices increasing."

But is that something to look forward to or dread?

Oil experts speculate that the current price of $73 a barrel may drop down to $58 in the short run, Greenley said, which means the economy will not have recovered by then.

But as the unemployment rate drops, businesses spend more on travel, and families have more income for vacations, the demand for oil will go up, resulting in higher gas prices in the long run, Greenley said.

In other words, enjoy these relatively low gas prices while they last.