Healthy Crude Oil Inventories have Downward Effect on Heating Fuel Prices

May 23, 2013

Augusta, Maine – The Governor’s Energy Office (GEO) conducted its weekly heating fuel price survey on Monday, May 20, 2013, and found the current statewide average cash price for No. 2 heating oil to be $3.43 per gallon, which four cents less than the average statewide price recorded two weeks ago. The average kerosene price declined similarly; this week’s average price of $3.87 per gallon is also four cents lower than two weeks ago. Propane prices, which have not fluctuated as widely as other heating fuels, decreased significantly from two weeks ago. The average statewide propane price, in amounts used for heating, was $2.67 per gallon, a six cent decline.

Despite a slight decline in crude oil inventories from last week, crude oil stockpiles overall are greater than in previous years, which causes downward pressure on prices http://www.eia.gov/pub/oilgas/petroleum/datapublications/weeklypetroleumstatus_report/current/pdf/highlights.pdf In addition, inventories in China (the second largest oil consumer) are at a three month high, which also affects the global price http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-05-21/wti-crude-drops-a-second-day-as-u-s-supplies-gain-a-fourth-week.html

Using this week’s average heating oil price ($3.43) and converting to a common heating unit value (million Btu), the price of fuel oil is $24.73. This compares with an equivalent heating unit value for natural gas of $17.00 (at $1.70/therm); propane, $29.23 (at $2.67/gallon); wood pellets, $14.55 (at $240/ton); cord wood, $10.50 (at $210/cord) and electricity, $43.96 (at 15 cents per kwh). The electricity cost is for traditional baseboard heat. Heat pumps, a recent technological advancement, are much more efficient, so total energy costs are lower than oil, kerosene, or propane.

The GEO has a calculator on its web site that allows consumers to estimate home heating costs and price impacts of various energy sources. See http://www.maine.gov/energy/index.html . Efficiency Maine Trust also has an interesting chart homeowners can use to compare costs of specific heating options http://www.efficiencymaine.com/pace/compare-heating-options

As of May 20, 2013


Heating Oil

Statewide

Southwest

Central

Eastern

Western

Northern

Average

3.44

3.34

3.55

3.42

3.40

3.54

High

3.86

3.50

3.86

3.55

3.63

3.60

Low

3.18

3.18

3.30

3.19

3.18

3.40

Kerosene

3.87

3.81

3.97

3.85

3.83

3.94

Propane

2.67

2.59

2.79

2.67

2.74

2.63

It is important to note that the price for heating oil is a statewide average, and that prices in a given geographic region of the state may be considerably higher or lower than this average. This week, within the Energy Office sample, the lowest heating oil price of $3.18/$3.19 was found in three regions of the state, and the highest of $3.86 was found in one region in the state. Also, the statewide average price for propane is based on a use of at least 900 gallons a year. Households using propane just for cooking or hot water generally pay a higher per gallon price. The table above provides current Maine cash prices in dollars rounded to the nearest penny.

Efficiency Maine links Maine homeowners and businesses with qualified, certified contractors who provide access to energy improvement options. For program details call 866-376-2463 or visit www.efficiencymaine.com.

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For Immediate Release

Contact:
Lisa Smith
(207) 624-7445
lisa.j.smith@maine.gov