Cumberland Farms gas station at Commack Road on the Long...

Cumberland Farms gas station at Commack Road on the Long Island Expressway, Commack. Credit: Rick Kopstein

Gas prices have dipped on Long Island and are expected to linger in the cheaper range through the Thanksgiving weekend travel period and into the slower winter driving season, experts said.

A gallon of regular gas cost an average of $3.51 on the Island Wednesday, which is down about 30 cents from the average a year ago, according to AAA. Prices traditionally decline in autumn and bottom out in the final months of the year, according to industry analysts. But this fall's drop seems significant, since it has gone below 2022 rates, according to Robert Sinclair Jr., a spokesman on Long Island for AAA Northeast.

"Demand for gasoline is lower than a year ago, when it was more expensive," Sinclair said, noting that inflation has probably prompted some to cut back on buying gas. "People are paying for food, clothing, and housing, and then maybe there's not a whole lot left over for what might be called nonessential driving trips."

The average daily price for a gallon of regular gas on Long Island was $3.52 Tuesday, down from about $3.87 on Sept. 20, according to the Oil Price Information Service, a research and analytics service. Costs were lowest in 2023 on Jan. 1, when the average daily price per gallon of regular gas was $3.18 in the region, according to OPIS data. 

Seasonal trends are behind most of the drop — about 35 of 50 cents — in the average price of a gallon of gas in the United States over the past two months, according to Chris Lafakis, a Moody's Analytics director who specializes in energy and climate economics.

Gas prices start declining in mid-September each year as wholesalers and gas stations start offering a fuel blend that's formulated for cooler weather and cheaper to make, Lafakis said. Americans also take fewer road trips in the winter, contributing to less demand that also pushes prices down, he said. 

Prices have fallen a bit more — that final 15 cents — over the past two weeks as oil traders grew more confident about conflict in the Middle East staying fairly contained, Lafakis said. Traders previously speculated that the Israel-Hamas war could spread to oil producers in the Persian Gulf and prompt countries to "use oil as an economic weapon," he said. Refineries turn crude oil into gas, diesel, jet fuel, heating oil and other products. 

Prices on Long Island will likely stay in the $3.45 to $3.65 a gallon range through the next four months — unless tensions escalate in the Middle East or another development impacts the price of crude oil, Lafakis said. 

Chrissie Pastrana, 21, of Oceanside, said she hasn't worried as much about her spending since gas prices have fallen.

"I'm always shopping around to see what's the best price," said Pastrana, who is studying mass communications and broadcasting. "I'm glad that prices are starting to decrease." 

Bob Mascia, 51, of Commack, said prices aren't too bad, but rates over the past few years have prompted him to consider ditching his truck for an electric vehicle.

"I'm probably putting $120 to $140 a week in gas in my truck," said Mascia, who commutes to Dix Hills, where he teaches and drives around his kids as well as for errands. "Once it got to maybe $4 a gallon, I think that's when I would get serious about looking into electric vehicles." 

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