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Gasoline up on tight Northeast supply

A research note says and heating oil purchases are expected to rise 4.6 percent above normal because of cold weather. A research note says and heating oil purchases are expected to rise 4.6 percent above normal because of cold weather. (Nick Ut/ Associated Press)
Associated Press / December 22, 2010

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Gasoline futures gained yesterday, as a problem at a refinery in the Caribbean contributed to tight supplies in the heavily populated Northeast and promised to help keep pump prices up heading into the New Year.

Gasoline rose 2.07 cents to close at $2.3981 a gallon on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude oil prices climbed as well, adding 45 cents to settle at $89.82 a barrel.

The Hovensa refinery at St. Croix, Virgin Islands, has had trouble restarting a key unit used to process crude oil. It was shut down several weeks ago, and repairs may take another week, according to Cameron Hanover energy consulting agency. The closure tightened supplies at the New York petroleum product hub, although stockpiles remain plentiful in other parts of the country.

At the pump, the price for a gallon of regular gasoline was $2.983 yesterday, according to AAA, Wright Express, and the Oil Price Information Service. That’s up nearly 11 cents from a month ago.

Meanwhile, oil traders remained optimistic about improving demand for energy products as millions of Americans travel for the holidays. And heating oil purchases are expected to rise 4.6 percent above normal for this time of year because of cold weather, according to a research note from MF Global.