MAMARONECK, N.Y. – A diminished fuel supply and the switch to a more expensive “summer blend” of gasoline means that Mamaroneck and Larchmont residents will not enjoy much relief at the pump as prices continue to soar.
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 that 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.
“When you take that amount of product off the market, what’s left becomes that much more valuable,” he said. “We can expect prices to go up when that happens. Things are going to get very hairy during the summer driving season.”
In Mamaroneck, the cheapest gas was found for $3.93 at the Hess station on Mamaroneck Avenue. Hess also had the least expensive premium gas, at $4.23 per gallon, according to New York Gas Prices. In Larchmont, both the CITGO and Global stations on Boston Post Road had regular gas for $3.85 a gallon, and premium gas for $4.15.
“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.”
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 that prices will likely only 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.”
The rising prices have left motorists feeling disconcerted. Debbie Snyder, who was filling up her tank at the Hess station said, "I don't know why they're going up. It's annoying, especially at this time, when the country's really hurting. It doesn't matter how much money you have; everybody's hurting and this just makes life more difficult."
At the Mobil station on Palmer Avenue where a gallon of regular fuel is $3.99, Mohammad Abugharbieh was working behind the counter inside. "People are complaining that there's no gas," he said, explaining that the pumps were empty. "We should have gotten the delivery yesterday but they're late because of the storm I guess. Nobody likes high prices, but people just need their gas."