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Gas prices on pace for all-time highs in ND, SD

FARGO, N.D. (AP) -- Gas prices in the Dakotas are poised to reach all-time highs.

AAA North Dakota officials say the statewide average record of $4.08 a gallon is likely to be broken in the next couple of days. The average price in the state Friday was $3.98, with some stations charging as much as $4.29.

Another AAA report shows South Dakota's highest statewide average to be $4.09 per gallon, which was set July 18, 2008. The average price in the state Friday was $3.89.

"It chills you to the bone," said Chuck Mai, a spokesman for AAA South Dakota. "This is the time of year when prices are supposed to be coming down."

The increases are due primarily to accidents at Midwest oil refineries and the planned temporary closures of two large refineries in Chicago.

Gene LaDoucer, spokesman for AAA North Dakota, said it's a regional issue and should be "a short-term episode."

Even so, Mai said he's worried about the impact the prices will have on family budgets. He said he spoke to a couple last week that had to choose between traveling to see their ill granddaughter and buying prescription drugs.

"It's really posing a hardship on a lot of families," Mai said. "You have elderly people on fixed incomes and many families strapped for cash. This is the state of affairs."

While the Upper Midwest feels the price pressure, the cost is falling in some states. South Carolina reported the lowest average of $3.22 per gallon, according to

"Between what we are paying in the Upper Midwest and in the Southeast is 75 cents to $1 difference," LaDoucer said.

Said Mai, "The one thing I've learned after 26 years of watching gas prices is that I don't know anything. The rule book is being rewritten every day. A new set of factors will influence the price tomorrow that were not in play last week."