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Despite good supply, gas prices rising on LI

Gas stations along Merrick Road near Central Boulevard

Gas stations along Merrick Road near Central Boulevard in Merrick. (Dec. 11, 2013) Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

Gasoline prices are still rising on Long Island, by 2.4 cents in the past week, despite supplies on the East Coast that are higher than a year ago.

Analysts blame higher crude oil prices and a temporary hike in the cost of ethanol, which comprises 10 percent of fuel at the pump.

Regular gas purchased at cash prices averaged $3.665 a gallon on Long Island Wednesday, the AAA said, up 15.8 cents from a month earlier, though 17.4 cents a gallon below a year earlier.

Long Island drivers had been getting a break at the pump earlier this fall as regular fell as low as $3.507 a gallon on Nov. 11, according to the AAA.

There's plenty of gasoline, though; the U.S. Department of Energy said in a weekly fuels report Wednesday that gasoline supplies on the East Coast rose by 5.6 percent last week from the week before, to 57.3 million barrels, and were 15.5 percent higher than a year earlier.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil has risen from a recent low of $93.04 Nov. 12 to settle Wednesday at $97.44 a barrel. "That price is likely to stay up here near $100 for the next few weeks," said Carl Larry, president of Oil Outlooks and Opinions LLC, a Houston consulting company that also publishes an energy newsletter.

Meanwhile, demand for gasoline is likely to increase again in coming weeks because of holiday driving.

Ethanol, added at distribution terminals, has risen by about $1.50 a gallon to a wholesale price of about $3.50, said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service in Wall, N.J. He said producers, fearing price reductions, had reduced shipments to the Northeast, which led to a temporary shortage and the higher prices. "It's not a long-term issue," he said.

Heating oil meanwhile averaged $4.104 a gallon Monday from full service dealers, according to the New York State Energy Research and Development Administration, up 10.5 cents from its recent low on Nov. 11.

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