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November 1, 2012

Storm not expected to impact gas, fuel oil prices

Sandy likely won’t hurt drivers at the pumps.

“Assuming a smooth restart to production and distribution following Hurricane Sandy, AAA expects that gas prices across the country will continue to drop leading up to Election Day and will move even lower approaching the end of the year,” AAA Northern New England spokesman Patrick Moody said yesterday.

Moody acknowledged the next week or two could prove challenging for fuel production, but drivers should be in a better place the rest of the year

“There is still the expectation that gasoline prices should continue to trend lower over the next couple of months in nearly all sections of the country,” Moody said.

Some industry analysts yesterday were predicting higher prices at least temporarily in the New York metropolitan region that took a major hit from Sandy.

Prices for a regular gallon of gas yesterday in New Hampshire ranged from $3.58 a gallon in the Portsmouth area to $3.63 in the Manchester area in the daily survey by AAA. Those prices are actually down from $3.66 and $3.70, respectively, a week ago.

The Massachusetts statewide average for regular gas was $3.72 a gallon, down from $3.78 last week in AAA figures.

Two of the six Northeast refineries, as well as many distribution terminals, closed temporarily because of Sandy. The other four refineries operated at reduced rates.

But there was some good news.

“Early reports following Hurricane Sandy indicate that damage to the regional refineries is minimal,” Moody said.

Demand also will play a role in gas prices. While reduced production and storm concerns were pressuring gas prices, offsetting factors included motorists staying off the road and flight cancellations by airlines.

“This drop in demand has the potential to pressure pump prices lower,” Moody said.

There were isolated reports of individual gas stations up and down the coast running out of gas, Moody said.

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