The Long Island average for regular gasoline of $3.20 is currently less than the national average of $3.28. NewsdayTV's Shari Einhorn reports. Credit: Newsday Staff

When industry analysts track gasoline prices around the country, a phrase comes to mind that’s almost unheard of here: look how cheap it is on Long Island.

While pump prices have been ticking slightly higher over the past few weeks, gasoline remains less expensive in Nassau and Suffolk counties than it is in other parts of the state. It’s also well below what it cost last year.

According to AAA, the average cost of regular gasoline rose 7 cents over the past month, to $3.20 per gallon on Long Island. That is 10 cents less than the New York average of $3.30 per gallon and nearly 20 cents less per gallon than what Long Island motorists paid for gasoline this time last year.

Gasoline can be purchased for as low as $2.84 per gallon at an Ultra Fuel in Commack and $2.85  at 7-Eleven and Valero stations in Bay Shore, according to price tracker GasBuddy.

“You just haven’t seen much of an increase in prices in your area, especially when compared to other parts of the country,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.

Over the past month, a gallon of gasoline jumped by more than 30 cents in West Virginia and 23 cents in Texas, according to AAA. Nationwide, gasoline prices are up nearly 20 cents per gallon over the past month to $3.279. 

A Mobil gas station on Old Country Road in Riverhead. The...

A Mobil gas station on Old Country Road in Riverhead. The average price on Long Island is lower than the averages in the state and nation. Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

It's about where it came from

Wherever you fill up, the price of gasoline is almost always affected by the same set of factors, including the price of crude oil that  regional refineries use to make fuel, refining and shipping costs, and state gasoline taxes.

New York gasoline is especially sensitive to the global market for crude oil since a lot of it comes from foreign refineries, and so pump prices in the region tend to be in lockstep with crude import prices. Meanwhile, the price of gasoline in other parts of the country, especially Texas and the Midwest, has soared as power outages and other issues slowed production at several refineries that serve the middle of the country, De Haan said.

Despite the refinery problems, government economists and market analysts agree that retail gasoline should see only mild increases this spring as temperatures rise and Americans take more road trips. Overall, U.S. pump prices are expected to be cheaper in 2024 than they were last year.

De Haan noted that price increases should be held in check as U.S. oil producers ramp up production and refineries increase their capacity to manufacture more gasoline. The global economy also has all but recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic, which smothered global energy consumption, then sent it soaring again as many businesses closed and then reopened.

“Those shockwaves are smoothing out,” he said.

A major geopolitical event, like further escalation of the Israel-Hamas conflict to neighboring oil-rich countries, could certainly restrict global supplies and push petroleum prices higher. But so far the conflict isn't expected to drive petroleum prices higher in 2024.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts that regular gasoline will top out at a national average of $3.55 in July, and that for the entire year, the national average pump price will be 21 cents cheaper per gallon than it was in 2023. 

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