Drivers in the New York area soon may get relief from long lines and higher gas prices.
A week after superstorm Sandy hit the area, the price of gas has increased 10 cents per gallon or more in the New York City area and in hard-hit parts of New Jersey. Images of long lines of cars and interviews with frustrated drivers have become staples in news coverage of the storm’s aftermath.
But across the U.S., the price of gasoline is falling — fast. It fell 7 cents this past week and has declined almost 9 percent in a month to $3.47 per gallon. The national average should be only slightly higher this Election Day than a year ago. That’s due to a dramatic drop in the price of wholesale gasoline and low demand from a combination of cautious consumers and improving automotive fuel-efficiency.
Wholesale gasoline futures fell about 12 percent in the past month and are down about 17 percent from a peak just before Hurricane Isaac made landfall in late August. Meanwhile, demand for gasoline has fallen for much of the year, and oil prices have dropped recently.
On Monday, the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute said the average gas mileage of new vehicles sold in the U.S. reached its highest point ever in October. Fuel economy now has improved by 20 percent over the past five years, and fuel consumption has fallen 17 percent, the institute said.
Prices should fall further in the coming weeks, according to Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service. Even people in the Northeast now standing or sitting in long lines for gas — what he calls the “hysteria” in New York and New Jersey — should catch a break.
Kloza predicts that within a week, many commuters across the country will be paying less to fill up than at this point last year. The national average currently is about 6 cents higher than a year earlier. It had risen to $3.87 in mid-September as oil neared $100 per barrel and gasoline supplies ran short in California and the East Coast because of issues with refineries.
On Sunday, the Energy Department estimated that 27 percent of all gas stations across New York City, Long Island and New Jersey did not have gas to sell. That’s down from 38 percent Saturday. The situation improved as more stations regained electricity and extra supplies were brought in.