South Dakota gas prices through the years

KELOLAND.com Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Gas prices are on the rise, both in South Dakota and across the U.S.

Senator Mike Rounds highlighted the increase in a Tweet, showing a photo of a Spearfish, S.D. gas station sign and comparing it to the average costs of gas and diesel in the state a year before.

October 2021 Tweet by Sen. Mike Rounds.

$3.59 is a lot to pay for gas in South Dakota, but it’s not unheard of. At the exact same gas station, nine years ago in 2012, the price was $3.59.

This price has not been the norm, of course. Just three years later in 2015, the same sign read $2.36.

July 2012 vs October 2015 Google street view of Spearfish Exxon station.

Down the street from the Exxon Common Cents in Spearfish is a Phillips 66. In 2015, it’s price for gas was $2.53

14 years ago in 2007 that location was a BP station. The price of gas at that point: $2.85.

October 2015 vs October 2007 Google street view of Spearfish Phillips 66/BP station.

Beyond the general fluctuations of price, a comparison of Spearfish prices to the state average misses an important factor: Gas in the Hills is expensive.

According to AAA, the average price of gas in South Dakota as of Oct. 25 is $3.28 (10 cents lower than the national average). However, the average price in Lawrence County where Spearfish is located is $3.59, more than 30 cents higher than the state average.

AAA map of average gas prices by county

This is an issue across the western half of the state, where only one county (Meade: $3.61) has a higher average price of gas than Lawrence County.

On the other side of the state, prices trend lower than the average in many counties, with Gregory County averaging the lowest at $2.99 per gallon as of Oct. 25. This is 29 cents below the state average and 60 cents lower than the average price of gas in Lawrence County.

Even within a small area, prices can vary noticeably. KELOLAND News called four Spearfish gas stations Monday morning to ask about the price of gas. Across the four stations, all within a five-minute drive of the others, the price for a gallon of gas varied by a total of 6 cents.

  • Station 1: $3.53
  • Station 2: $3.55
  • Station 3: $3.58
  • Station 4: $3.59

While $3.59 is pricey, it is not the most expensive gas has gotten in South Dakota. That distinction would be a price of $4.09/gallon, which was reached on July 18, 2008. Adjusted for inflation that would be a price in 2021 of $5.21/gallon.

In terms of average cost, South Dakota currently lies in the middle of the pack when it comes to the U.S.

AAA marks the national average price of gas at $3.38/gallon as of October 25. While South Dakota falls slightly below the average on this scale, other states range much higher and much lower.

AAA map of average gas prices by state

According to AAA, the state with the highest average gas price in October 2021 is California with an average cost of $4.54. At the other side of the spectrum lies Oklahoma, where the average cost of a gallon of gas is reported at $3.00.

A greater context can be derived by looking at the rise and fall of prices over the last 20 years.

Data from the U.S. Department of Energy shows a wide variation of prices over the past two decades. The lowest price recorded since April 2000 was seen in February 2002 when the average national price per gallon fell to $1.11.

Department of Energy average gas prices over time

The highest price in the this time period was seen in July 2008, when the national price averaged $3.91. Shortly after this point, prices plummeted to the lowest price seen since 2004, when prices dropped to $1.86 in January 2009.

From January 2009 onward, prices began to climb before leveling off in early 2011. They stayed in the mid to high $3 range for more than three years before dropping once again to an average of $2.30 in January 2015.

One year later, the priced dropped yet lower to $1.98 in January 2016, the lowest average price since January 2009. Throughout 2016, 2017 and 2018 the price rose steadily, hitting $2.91 in October 2018 before dropping briefly in January 2019 and rising again in the following months.

The price again dropped in April 2020. Occurring in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics explained the price drop, reporting “the combination of falling demand, rising supply, and diminishing storage space caused such a pronounced crude petroleum price plunge that, on April 20, crude petroleum traded at a negative price in the intraday futures market.”

Since this date, prices have risen sharply. According to AAA, this rise is the result of an increased demand and higher cost of crude oil (up nearly $20/barrel since August).

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