Contest! Guess the day that gas will hit $4 $2 $1 per gallon in Northfield

suv-econ-gas-pump.jpg.w300h294 The AP has this story posted this aft: Gasoline prices hit national average of $4 for the first time, expected to go higher.

Rather than a straw poll, let’s have a contest for guessing the day that a gallon of regular gas hits $4 right here in river city.

Attach a comment with the date of your guess. Use the format of month/day, eg: June 8.

Contest closes at 6:15 am on Tuesday, June. 10, which is about the time that I boot up my computer at a local coffeeshop. Only one entry per person, please. You may guess the same day as someone else.

Winner(s) will have their name and photo blogged on LG and mentioned on our podcast.  If you’re cute a nice person, I might invite you to coffee.

Update Oct. 26: New contest since the price today is $2.38 and continuing to fall.

Update Nov. 23: New contest since the price today is $1.68 and continuing to fall.


  1. My guess is Friday the 13th (of June). Seems appropriate. Oh, the unlucky, horror of Friday the 13th!
    I have been refueling when the tank is about half full. Then, when I see the price I must pay, I pretend that I am filling up as I used to. It is not as startling that way. And I can feel somewhat smug when the price goes up 10 cents a gallon the next day. But I am starting to feel compelled to buy more gas the day after I have bought gas, before prices go up again.

    June 8, 2008
  2. John S. Thomas said:

    With the Friday nightmare, I would say Tuesday morning, depending on how the market reacts in the morning.

    June 8, 2008
  3. John S. Thomas said:

    To make it official. Tuesday, June 10th, 2008.

    June 8, 2008
  4. Patrick Enders said:

    How ’bout this: $5 a gallon on Aug 8.

    Oh, and $4 on Thurs June 12.

    June 9, 2008
  5. kiffi summa said:

    Susan has gotten it correct, first, I think … Friday, June 13, 2008.

    June 9, 2008
  6. Scott Oney said:

    This sounds like fun, but isn’t it a bit like rooting for the home team to lose? How about a pool for when we can drill in the Gulf of Mexico or ANWR? That’s a change I could believe in!

    June 9, 2008
  7. David Henson said:

    $2.50 on Nov 1st

    June 9, 2008
  8. Patrick Enders said:

    Scott Oney wrote

    This sounds like fun, but isn’t it a bit like rooting for the home team to lose?

    Nah. It’s just embracing the future. It will happen whether we will it so or not, so we might as well pretend to enjoy it.

    How about a pool for when we can drill in the Gulf of Mexico or ANWR? That’s a change I could believe in!

    Unfortunately, that’d only be a drop in the bucket. If you want to significantly change the price of gas, you’ll have to convince China and India (and a whole lot of the rest of the world) to go back to their old agrarian ways.

    The only real solutions are alternative energy sources, and controlling consumption.

    June 9, 2008
  9. Patrick Enders said:

    Oh and:

    A coworker of mine – who has a particularly long commute due to family circumstances – just bought a hybrid Civic to drive instead of his Forester (or some such thing).

    Cut his daily gasoline bill from $30 to $12.

    June 9, 2008
  10. John S. Thomas said:

    I still think I am in the running…

    As we left St. Paul at 3:30, gas prices jumped from 3.89 to $4.09 at Holiday, Marathon, and SuperAmerica.

    I would be willing to bet we see the bounce later tonight or tomorrow.

    Oil was only down $3.54 today to $135.00 according to Bloomberg.

    June 9, 2008
  11. I’m with John Thomas–in spite of today’s drop in oil prices (bouncing back up a bit in after-hours electronic trading, though), gas could well pop over $4.00 locally tomorrow (June 10th).

    I like Patrick’s prediction of $5/gallon on August 8th or so, as well. Could be sooner if there’s a terrorist attack on Saudi oil facilities (or one of a bazillion other unseemly yet not-unlikely other random acts of humankind and/or Mother Nature, such as a major early-season hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico). Could be later if our economy completely tanks over the next few months, decreasing US demand.

    I’m one of those contrarians who has thought for years that gas/diesel is way too cheap. I give a little cheer every time I see the price rise at Northfield Amcon or Holiday, whether I’m biking past or driving past. (People, WAKE UP!) We haven’t been paying the freight (at the pump) for our long-term, humongously expensive military presence in the Persian Gulf/Middle East to ensure the free flow of oil from that vital oil-producing region, or for the tremendous air pollution/health effects/global climate impact of our insatiable thirst for oil. I would certainly want to see some protection for lower income folks who would be truly hurt by significantly higher fuel prices (and are already being hurt now), but we need to face up to the fact that our love affair with a petroleum-fueled party lifestyle can simply not be sustained. Significantly igher prices seem to be the only thing that gets most people’s attention.

    I also agree with Patrick that drilling in ANWR or the Gulf of Mexico would not materially affect gas prices, short or long-term. That would be a change that would make me tear my hair out: short-sighted environmentally damaging action that would provide a trivial amount of oil in the grand scheme of things. Anything that could be produced in ANWR or the Gulf (even if it turns out to be billions of barrels, beginning perhaps 10 or 15 years from now even if a crash program were to be implemented tomorrow) would be a relative drop in the bucket when the world is guzzling 85 million barrels of oil a day. As Patrick said, the only real, sustainable solution is reduced demand, and a rapid move away from a petroleum-based transportation system.

    In another thread here on Locally Grown, Howard Merriam recommends Bill McKibbens’ book “Deep Economy.” I’ll second that recommendation here, and also suggest both “The Long Emergency” by James Howard Kunstler and “World Made by Hand,” a new novel by Kunstler that paints a sobering, poignant fictional picture of a future we might be living sooner rather than later if we don’t change our ways. Enough for this rant.

    June 9, 2008
  12. Felicity Enders said:

    If we’re talking about regular unleaded, my guess is Friday, July 4. If we’re talking about the first time ANY non-diesel gas hits $4 in Northfield, I’ll go with Friday, June 13.

    June 9, 2008
  13. David Henson said:

    1) The types of comments seen here were very common in 1973 but I do remember a few economists explaining the despite blips here and there that over time all commodities/resources fall in price – which gas did then. And will likely do again.

    2) The Arabs (and the oil companies) have a long history of running the price up to gouge a little and then down to wipe out alternative fuel investments.

    3) The auto is highly inefficient in the human death toll which should be the reason for a new system no matter what the cost of fuel.

    June 9, 2008
  14. John S. Thomas said:

    Big Steer @ $3.99 this morning…

    June 10, 2008
  15. Anne Bretts said:

    John, I think you nailed it. My friend called on her way home from work in Lakeville last night and it was over $4 there. Given your observation this morning, it seems you should be the winner by the time you get home from work today.
    Drinks are on me, though hard to tell whether it would be a celebration or just drowning our sorrows.

    June 10, 2008
  16. John S. Thomas said:

    According to SuperAmerica and, the price has NOT moved this morning. It has not changed since Friday, when it went up 12 cents.

    Oil was up $2.14 to $133.45 yesterday, so the large Friday jump has not really given back anything.

    I am actually quite amazed that the prices have not moved yet, especially with the movement in the cities.

    Could it be that the stations are awaiting deliveries today that will raise the price?

    June 11, 2008
  17. Curt Benson said:

    Hey, John Thomas, I noted your name in the “Names to Note” in the News this am. Graduating summa cum laude. Kudos to you.

    June 11, 2008
  18. Anne Bretts said:

    Yes, John, congratulations! What an amazing achievement. Husband, dad, full-time worker, commuter, community volunteer, blog commenter, gas price monitor. Do you sleep at all?

    June 11, 2008
  19. John S. Thomas said:

    Thanks Curt… and no Anne, I usually don’t get more than 5 hours a night.

    I am starting my Masters in 3 weeks. Life is too short to sleep through it I guess. 😎

    Also, its 10 AM, and the gas prices haven’t moved. I find this REALLY odd… Anyone know when these stations get thier usual deliveries?

    June 11, 2008
  20. Patrick Enders said:

    Well, John is out of the running, and we’re $0.11 and a few hours from my guess being disqualified.

    Will Susan and Kiffi get it right?

    June 12, 2008
  21. Griff Wigley said:

    I filled up at Witt’s Auto Repair yesterday. Mark Witt told me he’d give me the “media discount” price: $2.049. Wow. Nearly 16 gallons for only $32.50!!

    Witt's Auto Repair Witt's Auto Repair

    June 13, 2008
  22. Patrick Enders said:

    Is he one of those providers whose meters can’t go up to $4.00, so they have to sell half-gallons? If so, when did he top $2 a half-gallon – yesterday by any chance?

    I wouldn’t say no to a post-dated win.

    June 13, 2008
  23. Griff Wigley said:

    Patrick, they went over the $4/gallon mark over a week ago but those pumps are full-serve so technically, they don’t count.

    June 14, 2008
  24. Griff Wigley said:

    Time for a new round of guesses on when a Northfield station will charge $4 or more for a gallon of self-serve reg. Deadline is Tues, June 24, 6:15 am.

    June 20, 2008
  25. Well, my Friday the 13th guess didn’t pan out and the price has been stuck at $3.89 for a week. I will now guess June 30th, the exact three-year anniversary date of the Northfield Entertainment Guide. Happy anniversary, Rob & Co.!

    June 20, 2008
  26. Griff Wigley said:

    I’ll guess July 3, just in time for the holiday weekend.

    June 23, 2008
  27. Britt Ackerman said:

    OK, I’ll bite…

    If Obama is elected on November 4, then gas will top $4 a gallon here on November 10.

    If McCain is elected on November 3, gas won’t top $4 a gallon until after Jan 1, 2009. I’ll go with January 21st, just cause it’s my birthday so that would be just my luck.

    June 23, 2008
  28. Randy Jennings said:

    I was in Norway last week, where my wife and I rented a tiny car for a driving trip around the Sognfjord. To put your $4-per-gallon question in perspective, we paid the equivalent of $9.95 per gallon (about 13.5 kroner per liter). This is one of the most stable oil-producing countries.

    In Oslo there is a fabulous public transportation system. Expensive to use, but fast, quiet, and convenient. I say let’s get gas prices up to the levels people pay in Europe (and have been paying for years and years), and maybe we can generate the will to fully develop a decent public transportation system here.

    June 24, 2008
  29. It’s been above $4/gal for at least two weeks out here in Delaware! $4.04, $4.07, though there was one place downstate over the weekend at $3.94 with a line, a big line, waiting.

    June 24, 2008
  30. David Henson said:

    Griff – Can I gloat on LG ? Gas = $2.24 gal, see post #8

    October 26, 2008
  31. Griff Wigley said:

    You rock, David. Was that an educated guess or just dumb luck? 😉

    October 26, 2008
  32. Griff Wigley said:

    Time for a new contest: Guess when the price will hit $2/gallon here in Northfield! (Blog post title updated)

    October 26, 2008
  33. About the same time the Dow drops below 5,000. Then we can REALLY celebrate!

    October 26, 2008
  34. David Henson said:

    Griff – Oil is in a free fall (and if the oil barons want to keep their cash flowing, and they do !, they will have to pump more while telling their OPEC friends they are pumping less) so $2.00 is probably a given – be bold and ask when the price will hit $1.00 ? The war is the wild card that drove oil futures up. The increasing demand from China etc was a nonstarter argument. Now global demand is way off so the price drop maybe very dramatic (do I hear 0.75 ?)

    October 26, 2008
  35. I say $2.00 on Nov 11.

    I say $1.00 never, so long as we deal with OPEC.

    October 26, 2008
  36. Patrick Enders said:

    $1.99 9/10 on the morning after we elect our next President.

    October 26, 2008
  37. Peter Millin said:

    Again i am confused. Three month ago I heard that the high price of gasoline is the fault of oil companies, because they are manipulating the market?
    We even discussed the possibility to go after OPEC…I guess all is well now?

    October 27, 2008
  38. Patrick Enders said:

    Maybe their scheme wasn’t sustainable?

    It’s basic capitalism: with the economy tanking, demand drops. When demand drops, price drops.

    I think the futures/speculation market fits into it as well, but I don’t pretend to understand the less concrete aspects of economics.

    October 27, 2008
  39. Peter Millin said:

    Future speculation is always is part of it, but it works on it’s way up and on it’s way down.

    I am sure quiet a few people have lost their shirts in oil futures…maybe we should bail them out 🙂

    October 27, 2008
  40. Jerold Friedman said:

    Patrick: Close guess. I’ve seen it $2.069 in Northfield, but Farmington is already down to $1.959!

    I’m still sticking with my guess of $1.999/gallon on 11/11. I’m looking forward to the coffee invite.

    November 7, 2008
  41. Patrick Enders said:

    I paid <$2 a gallon for gas yesterday in Lakeville. I didn’t leave Northfield Wednesday, so I don’t know exactly when it dropped below the $2 mark up there.

    I guess I need to remember that things move slower here in Northfield.

    November 7, 2008
  42. Bruce Anderson said:

    Lest anyone feel too celebratory about the price of gas plummeting, bear in mind that this has happened for one primary reason: the market is betting that the global economy is in the toilet for the foreseeable future, and that global demand for petroleum products will likewise be low. If and when the global economy turns around, look out. We’d better be ready for skyrocketing gas prices again.

    Fool me once (1973-74), shame on you. Fool me twice (1979-80), well shame on you again because this is America, dammit. Fool me three times (2006-2008), well whatthe$#&*?!? You mean I can’t keep partying like it’s 1999? Fool me four times (2009?)…

    November 7, 2008
  43. Patrick Enders said:

    I agree with your assessment. I’m just hoping our current 32-36mpg cars hold out until an affordable, practical 40 mile electric-only-range vehicle is available.

    I’d love to further decrease my driving, but unfortuantely I am contracted to provide services in two locations, 20 miles apart – that are not connected by timely public transportation.

    November 7, 2008
  44. Jerold Friedman said:

    I’m eagerly waiting for the Chevy Volt. It has a 40-mile electric motor range and a combustion engine only for longer trips. If your range is 20 miles round-trip, you won’t need gas.

    Chevy Volt is designed to move more than 75 percent of America’s daily commuters without a single drop of gas. That means for someone who drives less than 40 miles a day, Chevy Volt will use zero gasoline and produce zero emissions. […] And when it comes to being plugged in, Chevy Volt will be designed to use a common household plug.

    November 7, 2008
  45. Peter Millin said:

    Let’s hope GM stays in business long enough to actually get the Volt of the assembly line.

    If we are pinning our hopes on electricity we better agree quickly on how to produce it. Solar and wind alone won’t be enough.

    Nuclear is not an option and coal will be forced out of business soon.

    November 7, 2008
  46. patrick enders said:

    Yes, the Volt is the kind of thing I’m thinking about – although its projected sticker price keeps creeping upward.

    As for the source of electricity, I’m going with clean, pollution-free cold fusion.

    November 7, 2008
  47. patrick enders said:

    Incidentally, thanks for the link to the Volt site. The last time I had looked at images of the Volt, they were – i guess – pictures of the very sporty (but not very practical)-looking Volt concept car.

    The new pictures of a sedan look like a vehicle that would actually serve most of our needs.

    November 7, 2008
  48. Jerold Friedman said:

    Definitely. I remember to old pics too and I think that car was smaller than a small Porsche. The newer pics look great. I drive a Honda Insight, which is smaller than a Porsche, and I’m so ready for a 4-seat car!

    November 7, 2008
  49. Jerry Bilek said:

    “Fool me once (1973-74), shame on you. Fool me twice (1979-80), well shame on you again because this is America, dammit. Fool me three times (2006-2008), well whatthe$#&*?!? You mean I can’t keep partying like it’s 1999? Fool me four times (2009?)…”

    sounds like the lyrics of a hit song Bruce.

    just keep pedaling.

    November 7, 2008
  50. john george said:

    Patrick & Jerold- That Chevy looks like a real winner. Just wondering how the battery does in Minnesotam in January at 20 below. To run out of juice on 35 down in northern Iowa would be revolting to say the least. This is a car that you probably never cease charging, like some people with their credit cards. Ok. I’ll stop now, but just for a little while.

    November 7, 2008
  51. Peter Millin said:


    I read the link you provided and while there seems to be more action on cold fusion it still is not a viable solution at this point.

    It took Edison 2000 tries to invent the light bulb, so there is still hope.

    November 7, 2008
  52. John S. Thomas said:

    $1.99 gas at Kwik Trip and Super America when I drove by at about 9 PM this evening.

    November 7, 2008
  53. Griff Wigley said:

    Thanks, John. Here’s proof of $1.99/gal gas at Kwik Trip:


    November 8, 2008
  54. Griff Wigley said:

    Will it keep going doing as the recession deepens? Or will it soon start to rise as OPEC cuts production?

    November 8, 2008
  55. John S. Thomas said:

    I want to think it will continue to fall in the short term.

    Supposedly, there is supposed to be a 6 week lag built into the system between the market price of a barrel of oil, and the refined retail gasoline price. (this is supposedly the time it takes to get a barrel to the ground, moved, and refined)

    Estimates showed that the price passthrough from the spot to the retail market is complete within two-and-one-half months, with about 50 percent of the change occurring within 2 weeks and 80 percent within 4 weeks.


    I do know that a barrel of crude oil will produce about 42 gallons of gasoline. If prices moved in lock step, a $1 increase or decrease in the price of crude would result in a 2.4 cents move (1/42 of a dollar) in the price of gasoline. At the price of $147 per barrel, this summer’s peak for crude, would translate into $3.50 per gallon for unrefined gasoline, before state and federal taxes, and retailer markup is added.

    If that holds true, the current price of oil is $61.04 this morning (

    $61.04 * 0.024 = $1.46496 per gallon

    Again, this is before state and federal taxes, and dealer markup. (I believe that the current MN Gas tax is around 25.5 cents per gallon.)

    This would make the base price around $1.72 this morning, before markup. I do not think that the allowable markup is $0.27 per gallon though. (I think it is around 3 cents per gallon?)

    So, based on that, I would say yes, gasoline will continue to drop in the short term.

    I hope that helps!

    November 8, 2008
  56. Patrick Enders said:

    You ask an interesting question. As far as the battery in winter, the premise of the Volt is that the wheels are turned entirely by electrical power, but there is also a gas-fueled generator on board to burn gas to recharge the batteries as needed.

    I’ve had little trouble with regular car batteries in cold weather (and I haven’t required a plug-in heating block since my 1977 Accord), but it’s gotta help a typical car battery to be sitting near that large, heat generating engine.

    The other part I wonder about is the power steering and the brakes and such in a Volt. My current car drives like a brick when I first start it up on a cold morning. Without the heat of the engine to warm them up, how well will the non-battery parts of the Volt operate in sub-zero weather?

    My general thought is that most Minnesotans should not buy a first generation Volt. Let other people test drive the thing first, and wait for the new-and-improved models that follow.

    November 8, 2008
  57. John S. Thomas said:


    I would have to agree with you. The volt has been in development for a while, and has suddenly sprung on the stage.

    However, our government just gave $25 billion to the big three car companies to re-tool to make more energy efficient vehicles, and all they can come up with is hybrid Escalades. I believe that the Big Three just do not get it yet. We need safe, all weather vehicles that get 40+ MPG.

    What frustrates me is that everyone is flocking to the smart car, and I think it is a great product. However, with the pollution restrictions put on by the EPA, it only averages 36 MPG. This is great, but my 2004 Dodge Neon averages 32, and I can move 4 people.

    It is a start… but I think that the automakers can do better.

    Personally, I am looking forward to the CityZENN coming out, which will use ultracapacitors, and have a range of 250 miles on a charge, and be able to do up to 80 mph. (

    I would like to see us go to NO OIL instead of LESS OIL. I really want to see alternatives.

    November 8, 2008
  58. john george said:

    Patrick- As far as the accessories on that car, (power steering, brakes, etc) I’m assuming they would be electronically controled. Most power steering is hydrolic and the engine runs a pump for the oil. That is why in the winter, when the oil is cold, it ia a little stiff. Also, when the engine stops, you must force oil back through the pump to steer. This adds a lot of effort. Electric assist would eliminate these problems. Also, the power brakes are vacuum operated, and without an internal combustion engine sucking air through the intake manifold, there is no vacuum. I’m assuming they are electrically boosted.

    On the batteries, I thought they were distributed throughout the frame under the passenger compartment for better weight distribution. Those things are really heavy. That would put them away from any heat generated by the motor. I haven’t seen a cut-away of the latest configuration, though.

    November 8, 2008
  59. Jerry Bilek said:

    just read this:
    “The price of gas, which was running $11/gallon in Italy in September, even with a favorable Euro vs. dollar exchange rate, has produced a heightened interest in bicycle commuting.

    At the show’s opening ceremony, the mayor of Milan described the recent focus of the city on building bike paths. This is not a simple task in a city founded nearly a thousand years ago, with a chaotic street plan based on the positions of the defensive walls surrounding the city at ever-increasing radius from the center over the centuries.”

    full story:—a-visit-to-the-milan-bike

    November 8, 2008
  60. Jerry Friedman said:

    First, I’m officially switching to my nickname “Jerry” — I used my formal name, Jerold, only for the election.

    More importantly…

    John T: The ZENN car looks hot! I also like Honda’s options including zero-emission vehicles. The Honda Insight is being overhauled for a 2010 release.

    November 9, 2008
  61. I saw gas at $1.99 last night at Super America (I think that was the station).

    I suppose the other stations will follow through today.

    November 9, 2008
  62. David Henson said:

    US wholesale petrol prices fell below $1 a gallon this week for the first time since the current Nymex contract specification came into existence in 2006. Nymex December RBOB unleaded gasoline touched a low of $0.9870 a gallon on Friday before recovering to trade 0.03 cents higher at $1.0354, down 16.4 per cent this week.

    November 22, 2008
  63. Griff Wigley said:

    Price is down to $1.68 locally. I’ve changed the headline again. Could we get to $1/gallon?

    November 23, 2008
  64. Jerry Friedman said:

    A barrel of oil for $2.00? In high school, I recall hearing that gas is cheap for Middle East consumers, but water is expensive. I’d rather have cheap water.

    December 19, 2008

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