MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – A diminished fuel supply and the switch to a more expensive, “summer blend” of gasoline means Mount Vernon residents will not enjoy much relief at the pump as prices continue to soar.
As of Thursday night, motorists in New York were paying an average of $3.91 per gallon for regular, the second highest in the continental United States – behind California’s $3.99 – according to AAA. Average prices in the state have risen 15 cents in the past week.
Robert Sinclair, the spokesperson for AAA New York, said the Port Reading Refinery in Woodbridge, N.J., is set to shut down at the end of the month. The refinery ships 70,000 barrels of oil each day, approximately 7.5 percent of what is consumed in the Northeast.
“With the refinery going down, it’ll be up to the other guys to make up the difference, or we’ll have that much less volume,” Sinclair said. “What’s left will become more expensive. It’s a pretty big hit, taking that amount of a commodity off the market.”
“When you take that amount of product off the market, what’s left becomes that much more valuable,” he added. “We can expect prices to go up when that happens. Things are going to get very hairy during the summer driving season.”
In Mount Vernon, the cheapest regular gas can be found for $3.85 per gallon at Speed Gas on West First Street according to New York Gas Prices. The least expensive premium gas also is at Speed Gas, for $4.15 a gallon.
In mid-March, gas stations will switch to a “summer blend” of gasoline, which is more eco-friendly for the busier driving season. Between the switch in blends and the extended cold spell the East Coast is experiencing, Sinclair said prices likely will continue to rise.
“We won’t see relief anytime soon. The cold weather has worsened the situation. The colder it gets, there is a greater demand for home heating oil, which competes with gasoline for available crude oil,” he said. “All of these factors flying into the market leave us believing prices will continue to go up.”
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