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Gas prices fall as Northeast travel restricted

Gasoline prices fell Wednesday as travel in the storm-battered Northeast remained restricted by felled trees, power outages and flood damage.

The national price for a gallon of gasoline fell 1.3 cents overnight to $3.521 per gallon, according to AAA, Wright Express and the Oil Price Information Service. That’s about 26 cents less than a month ago.

Prices fell less than a penny in New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. They rose less than a penny in New Jersey.

The drop in demand for gas has overshadowed limited production at the nine refineries in the region. Seven refineries have been operating at reduced rates and the other two closed. Crews worked to restore the facilities to normal operation but, in some cases, were hampered by power outages.

Although gasoline supplies are plentiful in the region, some supply terminals were closed, which limited availability for service stations. And some stations were closed because of a lack of power.

Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at OPIS, predicted the average nationwide price of gasoline will fall below $3.50 per gallon in the next couple of weeks, with the steepest declines in the Southeast and on the West Coast. Prices could remain flat or increase temporarily in the Northeast until there is a better idea of when supplies will be readily available again, he said.

“The product is available and I don’t anticipate prolonged supply shortages,” he said in an email. “There is gasoline in various tanks, but thanks to flooding or electricity or traffic chaos, it can’t be accessed.”