The average price of gas on Long Island has risen...

The average price of gas on Long Island has risen about $1 since last year. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline on Long Island went up nearly 10 cents in the past week, to $3.965, the AAA reports, based on a survey of gas stations.

That's an increase of nearly 20 cents in the past month, and about $1 more than a year ago -- when the price was $2.997, the automobile association said.

Prices continue to rise nationally, a MasterCard survey says, leading drivers to cut back on trips and buy less gas in recent weeks.

Pump price relief, though, could be in sight, one oil industry analyst says.

"From here on in, we should see gasoline prices pare some of the early season gains and settle back into $3 to $3.50 area for the rest of the summer," Carl Larry, president of Oil Outlooks and Opinions, in Houston, said in an email.

"If the prices don't come back as I think they will, there will be a definite drag on the recovery of the U.S. economy and we might see more action taken from the government to help us along."

On Long Island, premium gasoline is up more than 10 cents a gallon in the past week, and 20 cents in the past month, to $4.191 a gallon, AAA said. The current price is 93 cents higher than a year ago.

At least 15 service stations on Long Island were selling regular gasoline for more than $4.08 a gallon Monday, according to longislandgasprices.com, which compiles reports from consumers. The site lists prices as high as $4.19 in Mineola and Shirley, as well as a low price of $3.79 in Holbrook and Hauppauge.

Ronnie Benitendi of Hauppauge filled up her car one day last week with regular gasoline costing $4.09 at a Gulf station off the LIE at Route 111. "It's time to start walking," she said.

Diesel at Long Island gas stations is up 8 cents a gallon in the past week and 17 cents in the past month, to $4.428, the auto association said, more than $1.11 higher than a year ago.

Nationally, as prices have risen sharply, consumers are buying less gasoline, and U.S. consumption has fallen each week for the past month, the nationwide MasterCard market analysis shows. Michael McNamara, vice president for research and analysis for MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, says people are worried about prices as the U.S. average price surpasses $3.50 a gallon.

"Compared to March 2010, we're seeing drivers pump less gasoline," McNamara says.

"Based on what we've observed in the last three to four years, high gasoline prices typically result in consumers consolidating shopping trips, shopping closer to home, and making fewer trips to the brick and mortar locations as we get to Saturday."

Larry, the Texas oil analyst, says plentiful crude oil and increases in refinery output should counterbalance such factors as demand from China and unrest in oil-producing Middle East nations. Along with the drop in consumer gasoline purchases, this could lead to lower prices, he said.

"We may have scared a peak into the pump prices here," Larry said, "and we are seeing demand scale back as more consumers are looking for ways to save a few dollars and cut back on driving."

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