Gasoline prices are slipping on Long Island as crude oil prices fall and supplies of fuel rise on the East Coast.
Regular averaged $4.004 a gallon in Nassau and Suffolk Wednesday, down 3.7 cents from a week earlier. Regular gasoline had climbed from $3.762 on Dec. 26 to a recent high of $4.045 on Feb. 26. The AAA survey is based on the lowest price available at stations that charge less for cash than credit card purchases.
Gas prices had risen due to a combination of rising crude prices, higher world demand for petroleum and, more recently, refinery outages and downtime for maintenance.
Now imports of gasoline from abroad have increased, according to government figures, and refineries are completing their seasonal maintenance, said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates Llc in Houston.
"I expect a slow but steady decline in gasoline prices over the next couple of weeks," said Lipow, "as refineries come back from maintenance and add to supplies to meet oncoming [summer] demand."
The "Brent" European grade of crude oil that is the raw material for much of the gas sold on the East Coast has fallen from a recent high of $118.90 a barrel to $111.06 in London trading Wednesday. Long Island heating oil prices also have fallen, from a recent peak of $4.369 a gallon Feb. 18 to $4.273 on Monday at full-service dealers, according to the state.
The declines in gasoline prices could be temporary. Demand for gasoline is expected to increase seasonally as winter gives way to spring. And refiners will begin phasing in more expensive summer-grade gasoline, required at terminals in this region by May 1. Regular gasoline has averaged as high as $4.34 a gallon on Long Island in the AAA survey -- in July 2008.