With Oil Distillate Stocks Falling, and Price of Crude Oil Rising, State Heating Oil Prices See Slight Increases

February 4, 2014

Augusta, Maine – The Governor’s Energy Office (GEO) conducted its weekly heating fuel price survey on Monday, February 3, 2014, and found the current statewide average cash price for No. 2 heating oil was $3.89 per gallon, up two cents from last week. The average statewide price for kerosene is up two cents, to $4.29 per gallon. This week’s average statewide price for propane (for heating customers) increased by 12 cents, to $3.47 per gallon. Heating fuel prices have risen 36 cents (heating oil), 35 cents (k-1), and 82 cents (propane) per gallon since the heating season began in October. Last year at this time, heating oil averaged $3.76 per gallon; kerosene, $4.24, and propane, $2.72.

A recent Bloomberg News report discussed how West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices rose for the first time in almost a week. They attributed this increase in crude oil prices to the drops in oil distillate supplies, which includes heating oil. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), distillate stocks are down about 14 million barrels from last year, including down 16% in New England alone. The chart below shows how stocks in New England compare from this year to last year. The slight decline in stocks could account for the slight difference in heating oil prices from this winter to last.

New England Oil Distillate Stocks

Likely a result of the cold temperatures this winter, the decline in distillate stocks could be about to take a turn for the better. According to the EIA, oil distillate production is up 12% from last year in the United States. This could mean as the weather starts to get warmer, stocks could begin to climb back towards last year’s levels.

Using this week’s average heating oil price ($3.89) and converting to a common heating unit value (million Btu), the price of fuel oil is $28.05. This compares with an equivalent heating unit value for natural gas of $15.50 (at $1.55/therm); propane, $37.99 (at $3.47/gallon); kerosene $31.78 (at $4.29/gallon); wood pellets, $14.67 (at $242/ton); cord wood, $11.36 (at $250/cord) and electricity, $43.96 (at 15 cents per kwh). These fuel-only prices do not take into account the type of heating system, nor its efficiency. For example, the electricity cost is for traditional baseboard heat. Other electric heating technologies, such as heat pumps and electric thermal storage (ETS), may offer consumers energy savings. Cold climate heat pumps, a recent technological advancement, are much more efficient than baseboard electric heat, so total energy costs are lower than many other types of heating fuels. ETS offers savings by utilizing off-peak electric rates, available in many areas of the state.

The Energy Office has a calculator on its web site that allows consumers to obtain more detailed estimates of home heating costs, and the price impacts of various types of fuel, heating systems and heating appliances. Heating costs vary considerably from home to home. The home heating calculator can assist homeowners in finding the best heating option for their home, location, lifestyle, and budget http://www.maine.gov/energy/index.html

As of February 3, 2014


Heating Oil

Statewide

Southwest

Central

Eastern

Western

Northern

Average

3.89

3.90

3.89

3.88

3.87

3.94

High

4.19

4.19

4.15

4.03

4.06

4.02

Low

3.70

3.70

3.77

3.75

3.75

3.90

Kerosene

4.29

4.29

4.30

4.29

4.27

4.33

Propane

3.47

3.47

3.47

3.36

3.44

3.70

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 highest heating oil price ($4.19) was found in one region in the state, and the lowest heating oil price ($3.70) was also recorded in one region. 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 Trust 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