Despite Discussion to Prop Up Prices, Crude Oil and Heating Fuels Remain at Lowest Prices in More Than a Decade

February 23, 2016

Augusta, Maine – The Governor’s Energy Office (GEO) conducted its weekly heating fuel price survey on Monday, February 22, 2015, and found the current statewide average cash price for No. 2 heating oil was $1.71 per gallon, almost unchanged over the last few weeks. Average statewide kerosene prices fell four cents over the last three weeks, now $2.28 a gallon. Propane prices also remained steady, at $2.21 per gallon (for heating customers).

Over the last week, Saudi Arabia and Russia, presently the two largest oil producing nations, agreed to limit their production to current levels, in an attempt to boost global oil prices http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-02-15/oil-advances-above-30-as-saudis-said-to-plan-talks-with-russia . However, markets did not respond with a significant uptick in prices. The output levels agreed to are still very high (see below), and other oil producing nations did not join the pact made between the Saudis and Russians.

This action is not viewed by energy market experts as having any long term impact on world crude prices. We are still in a comparatively oversupplied and flat demand market.

Using this week’s average heating oil price ($1.71), and converting to a common heating unit value (million Btu), the price of fuel oil is $12.33. This compares with an equivalent heating unit value for natural gas of $15.60 (at $1.56/therm); propane, $24.31 (at $2.22/gallon); kerosene $16.89 (at $2.28/gallon); wood pellets, $15.58 (at $258/ton); cord wood, $11.36 (at $250/cord) and electricity (electric baseboard), $38.10 to $55.69 (at 13-19 cents per kwh).

However, fuel prices are only part of the calculation when determining which fuel will save you more this heating season. The type of heating system, as well as its efficiency, needs to be factored into the estimate. 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 are much more efficient than baseboard electric heat, so total energy costs are lower than 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 explore these fuel options further, as well as compare efficiencies of heating systems most closely matching their own system. 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 . Efficiency Maine also has a calculator on its website that can help consumers evaluate their heating options http://www.efficiencymaine.com/at-home/home-energy-savings-program/heating-cost-comparison/

As of February 22, 2016

Heating Oil

Statewide

Southwest

Central

Eastern

Western

Northern

Average

1.71

1.67

1.75

1.70

1.68

1.85

High

2.00

1.90

2.00

1.90

1.93

1.90

Low

1.40

1.40

1.50

1.40

1.40

1.80

Kerosene

2.28

2.37

2.23

2.21

2.27

2.26

Propane

2.22

2.26

2.14

2.14

2.24

2.38

The price for heating oil is a statewide average; 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 ($2.00) was found in one region in the state, and the lowest heating oil price ($1.40) was found in three regions. 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.

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For Immediate Release

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