A gas station on New York Avenue in Huntington Wednesday....

A gas station on New York Avenue in Huntington Wednesday. The price of gasoline has risen on Long Island by about 30 cents per gallon over the past four weeks, according to AAA. Credit: Rick Kopstein

The price of gasoline has been creeping higher on Long Island at a rate that's outpaced the national average as temperatures rise and refineries switch to a more expensive summer blend of fuel.

According to AAA, pump prices in Nassau and Suffolk counties have risen by more than 30 cents per gallon over the past month. They're up by 13 cents per gallon nationally in that same span.

The rise hasn’t gone unnoticed: Commuters headed to Manhattan from Riverhead will now pay about $48 more per month if they’re driving both ways about 20 times per month. Shipping costs may increase for local merchants, making it tougher to turn a profit and possibly forcing some to raise their prices.

"It just keeps going up," said April Pang, 24, as she pumped $20 of gasoline at $3.699 per gallon into her Chevrolet Tahoe at a Speedway station in Riverhead. "I don't like to blame anybody, but I definitely don't like it."  

Pang, who works at a bank in Southampton, said she recently moved from Riverhead to the South Fork to be closer to work and save on fuel. Instead of spending more than an hour in traffic, Pang said she now has a five-minute commute.  

"I miss my friends and family" in Riverhead, Pang said, "but in the long run this is going to be better for me."  

Fuel market experts said the recent price increases shouldn't be confused with what economists typically think of when they talk about inflation.

Gasoline costs nearly 7 cents more per gallon on Long Island now than it did a year ago. It’s about the same price statewide and nationally year over year.

Gasoline on Long Island is still priced at a discount compared with other parts of the country, especially communities in the West and Pacific Northwest, where filling stations usually charge more than $4 per gallon. The average price in California is currently $5.41 per gallon, according to AAA.

Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at the Oil Price Information Service, said prices are trending higher on Long Island and the Northeast as oil refineries serving the region switch over to a more expensive blend of gasoline that’s required in the summer. They make this transition every spring, which almost always pushes prices higher this time of year.

“Long Island and New York and Pennsylvania switched last week from winter gasoline, which has components in it like butane that are very cheap, but can’t be used when you have ozone regulations in the summer,” Kloza said.

The switch “drove an increase of about 30 to 34 cents” per gallon in the region, Kloza said.

Kloza expects the national average for gasoline to remain below $4 per gallon in the first half of this year. Prices should remain steady, he said, as long as hurricanes avoid Gulf Coast oil producers in the second half of the year.

Other forecasters agree. Analysts at the U.S. Energy Information Administration expect gasoline will cost an average of $3.60 per gallon nationally this year. That’s about 10 cents more per gallon when compared with last year, thanks to higher gasoline exports and lower inventories throughout the year.

Correction: Gasoline costs nearly 7 cents more per gallon on Long Island now than it did a year ago. It’s about the same price statewide and nationally year over year. An earlier story gave incorrect estimates.

Average gas prices on Long Island

Now: $3.678 per gallon

A month ago: $3.369

A year ago: $3.606

Source: AAA

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