Shaunee Mulgrave, of Queens, fills her tank. (Oct. 24, 2012)

Shaunee Mulgrave, of Queens, fills her tank. (Oct. 24, 2012) Credit: Heather Walsh

Gasoline prices fell by another 12.4 cents on Long Island in the past week as supplies rose.

The AAA said regular averaged $3.954 a gallon Wednesday morning in Nassau and Suffolk, the lowest since Aug. 9. The average has fallen by 20.4 cents from the recent peak of $4.158 on Oct. 3.

Homeowners who heat with oil also got a small break last week; the average price at full-service dealers on Long Island fell by 3.8 cents to $4.253 as of Monday, the state Energy Research and Development Authority said. However, the average is 26 cents a gallon higher than at this time last year.

Gasoline prices could fall another 10 to 15 cents in this region between now and midwinter, barring unforeseen events, said Gene McGillian, an analyst and broker at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Conn.

A temporary shortage of gasoline in the New York metropolitan area had caused prices to rise since Labor Day, despite reduced demand with the end of the summer driving season. Industry analysts blamed a shortage of refinery capacity to serve the East Coast resulting from the closures within the past year of three refineries -- one in the Caribbean and two in Pennsylvania. That was compounded by downtime for maintenance and repair at other refineries that produce gasoline for the U.S. East Coast.

Now, says McGillian, "The maintenance programs at refineries are basically wrapping up and we're seeing the normal decline in demand as we get closer to winter." He noted also that the industry is switching to winter grade gasoline, which is less expensive to produce than the summer grade required by clean air laws. And one of the two Pennsylvania refineries has reopened under new ownership and is producing gasoline again.

Meanwhile, crude oil prices have been sliding on strong supplies and worry about future demand as the United States and many international economies struggle. The benchmark U.S. grade fell another 94 cents Wednesday, settling at $85.73 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude oil, which had sunk to a recent low of $77.69 a barrel on June 28, reached a recent high of $99 on Sept. 14.

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