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Gas prices finally fall below $3

WILLMAR -- The sentiments of Scott Erickson of Willmar are probably shared by other motorists who have seen gasoline prices fall below $3 per gallon in recent days.

"It should have happened six months ago,'' Erickson said Friday. "That's what's killing the country is nobody's budgeting for gas. Nobody's got that extra cash to spend. The people that haven't budgeted for it are the ones late on their house payments, late on their credit cards and it affects everybody.''

Erickson, who installs lawn irrigation systems, spoke while his partner filled the skid-loader with diesel fuel at Walt's on South First Street in Willmar.

The Web site listed gas on Friday as low as $2.95 a gallon at several stations in Cambridge, but that is higher than the year-ago average of $2.76 a gallon.

The high point was reached July 14 when the national 12-month average retail price hit $4.06 a gallon on July 14, according to, which tracks gas prices.

The Associated Press reported Friday that crude oil prices plunged briefly to below $78 a barrel as investors grew more pessimistic about the prospects for resolving global economic problems.

A barrel of oil has not been this cheap in 13 months, the AP reported.

Gasoline prices are expected to drop even further, according to the Web site Geoff Sundstrom, a spokesman for AAA, said declining consumer demand is the reason. He said demand seems to be drying up week by week.

In September, after the Gulf region was slammed by Hurricane Ike, several refineries were forced to shut down operations. But refineries are operational again, and more product is available, said Sundstrom.

Erickson, who burns diesel fuel in the four-wheel-drive pickup truck pulling his trailer and skid-loader, wonders why the price of diesel remains stuck at $3.89 a gallon while gasoline prices have fallen.

"Diesel costs less to manufacture than gas, so you tell me what's going on there,'' he said.

"It was fine a year-and-a-half ago when gas was actually a buck a gallon or more than diesel. But that's got to be killing all independent truck drivers, everybody, independent contractors like myself. A ton of money (is) being spent on fuel.''