EASTCHESTER, N.Y. – A diminished fuel supply and the switch to a more expensive “summer blend” of gasoline means that Eastchester 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 spokesman 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 Eastchester, the cheapest gas can be found for $4.09 at the Gulf station on White Plains Road. Gulf also has the least expensive premium gas, at $4.39 per gallon, according to New York Gas Prices .
“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. Rose Ambrechi, who was gassing her car at Exxon near the Scarsdale-Eastchester town line, said that filling up has become a necessary evil.
“Right when things start feeling at least a little better, the prices shoot right back up,” she said. “The worst part is, it’s something that we all need, so we have no control over how much they raise things.”