Why is Gasoline so Expensive in Buffalo?

At the Buffalo Gas Prices website you’ll find this graph (or one very similar to it):

It is difficult to understand why, one year ago, Western New York gas prices were roughly 5 cents per gallon above the national average, yet today they are 47 cents above the national average.

If you’re from Buffalo, doesn’t this just stick in your craw?  I dug around trying to understand the price differentials and came up with a number of unsubstantiated answers, all speculative:

  • Supply and demand factors
  • Lack of local refineries
  • Distance from pipelines and refineries
  • State formulation requirements
  • State taxes
  • County taxes
  • Local greed

I thought that reformulation was an issue, as New York is one of those states that 1) must use reformulated gas to reduce pollution in its major urban center; 2) forbids use of MTBE, leaving only ethanol as the oxygenator of choice and potentially raising the cost of gas.  But that doesn’t explain why Western New York has the most expensive gasoline in New York State.  New York City prices (as of 10/20) averaged only $2.94 per gallon.  The Upstate average is $3.20 per gallon.  And here we are at $3.31 per gallon.  None of the factors above lead to a rationalization of the huge price differential that we’re paying at our end of the state.

Of course, there is one plausible explanation as to why the oil companies charge us more than in other areas:  Because they can.

And no amount of writing to my State Assemblyman will change that.

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5 Responses to Why is Gasoline so Expensive in Buffalo?

  1. beanozone says:

    whatever the cause, I am sick of paying a small fortune each time I gas up my coupe! great blog!!!

  2. Becky says:

    There must be a toll booth on the gas line.

  3. Paul says:

    I noticed that even today’s Buffalo News article (I must have been prescient) could not get a handle on why gas is so much more expensive here.

    BBD

  4. joe says:

    The gas prices have been higher in WNY ever since we got our licenses, no? (For those who are interested in ancient history, that was when a gallon cost about 39 cents.)

    The answer “Because they can” doesn’t quite explain why “they” have been able to do it for so long! Bad politicians? Bad policies? Some endemic, systematic problem? All of the above? It’s hard to understand.

    But I see it in DC on a geographically smaller scale. The prices in Laurel MD are consistently lower than in Germantown, where I work, and Germantown is consistently lower than Rockville. They are all within 15 miles of each other, but in different economic zones. One is impoverished, one is part of “the people’s republic” of Montgomery County, one is sub-urban Wash. DC. The cost of the division, which is purely a social construct with no apparent underlying economic rational, is about 20 cents per gallon. It’s rather stark.

  5. ilona@israel says:

    Earlier gasoline station was only a place where people used to fill their cars with gas, but now it is a complete service convenience store with drinks, food, fuel and sundries.Petroleum and gasoline service station financing provides help to the gas station owners to purchase various facilities for their stations.

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