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U.S. Midwest gas prices back to 'normal'

June 28, 2013 at 7:37 AM

WASHINGTON, June 28 (UPI) -- Retail gasoline prices for consumers in the U.S. Midwest are closer to the national average after a series of refinery issues, the U.S. Energy Department said.

AAA reports a national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline Friday of $3.51, nearly 10 cents less than the same time last week. Drivers in Illinois paid an average $3.80 for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline Friday, compared to the $3.99 average reported by AAA one week ago.

The Energy Information Administration, the statistics arm of the Energy Department, said unscheduled and routine maintenance in the Midwest market this spring meant gasoline inventories were lower than average, meaning higher prices for consumers.

The EIA said refineries started returning to normal operations after mid-May inventory declines. Most refineries do not produce enough gasoline to meet regional summer demand, so it takes longer for prices to return to normal because of gasoline deliveries from other regions.

The price reduction comes ahead of the Independence Day holiday in the United States. AAA said it expects less road travel this season when compared to last year.

EIA expects a seasonal average price of $3.53 per gallon.

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