Upward Climb in Fuel Prices Slows as Global Crude Oil Prices Ease Slightly

October 16, 2018

Augusta, Maine - The Governor's Energy Office (GEO) conducted its weekly heating fuel price survey on Monday, October 15, 2018, and found the current statewide average cash price for No. 2 heating oil was $2.99 per gallon, up 3 additional cents from last week. The average statewide kerosene price is also up three cents, to $3.58 per gallon. The average propane price rose only one cent, and now stands at $2.84 per gallon, statewide (for heating customers). As the table below indicates, current heating fuel prices are, on average, 5-15% more expensive than they were for the 2017-18 heating season.

Date Maine Average Retail Fuel Prices,
per Gallon
Heating Oil Kerosene Propane
10/16/17 $2.21 $2.85 $2.53
6/18/18 $2.74 $3.35 $2.67
10/1/18 $2.88 $3.45 $2.77
10/9/18 $2.96 $3.55 $2.83
10/15/18 $2.99 $3.58 $2.84
avg, 2017-18 heating
season price
$2.59 $3.22 $2.70
% increase over
2017-18 heating
season average
15.4% 11.2% 5.2%

Global crude oil prices have dropped slightly since last week, down approximately $5 per barrel (see graph below).

However, there has been considerable speculation regarding future oil prices, due to impending U.S. economic sanctions on Iran; falling production in Venezuela; recent political tension between Saudi Arabia and the U.S. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-10-15/oil-rises-as-saudi-arabia-vows-to-hit-back-against-any-sanctions ; as well as uncertainty regarding future production increases by other countries (Saudi Arabia, the U.S., Canada, and Brazil) to offset these production losses.

In its 2018 Winter Fuels Outlook, the Energy Information Administration forecasts that heating oil prices will average $3.27 per gallon https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/steo/pdf/steo_full.pdf . If prices rise to this level, and we have an 'average' winter here in Maine, consumers will be paying 26% more for heating oil this season than last.

Below is a table of prices collected for various regions of the state.

*Maine Retail Heating Fuel Prices, as of October 15, 2018


Heating Oil

Statewide

Southwest

Central

Eastern

Western

Northern

Average

2.99

2.96

3.01

3.04

2.93

3.11

High

3.32

3.20

3.20

3.32

3.20

3.15

Low

2.65

2.65

2.83

2.83

2.65

3.05

Kerosene

3.58

3.58

3.58

3.60

3.51

3.67

Propane

2.84

2.97

2.77

2.87

2.73

2.72

The following table compares the prices between various heating fuels, and converts these prices to a common heating unit value (dollars per million Btu). 

Comparison of Heating Fuel Prices per Million Btu (October 15, 2018)

Fuel Price (in dollars) Fuel Price (dollars per million Btu)
Cord Wood ($275/cord) $12.50
Natural Gas ($1.21-$2.21/therm)* $12.14-$22.14
Wood Pellets ($268/ton) $16.24
Heating Oil ($2.99/gallon) $21.56
Kerosene ($3.58/gallon) $26.52
Propane ($2.84/gallon) $31.09
Electricity - baseboard (14-17.5 cents/kwh) $42.50-$51.29
Electricity - air source heat pump (5.2-6.5 cents/kwh)* $15.24-$19.05

*price varies depending on location; natural gas and electricity delivery companies service only selected areas of the state.
**ductless, air source heat pump calculations courtesy of Efficiency Maine


Fuel prices are only part of the calculation when determining which fuel will save you more money over the course of a heating season. The type of heating system, as well as its efficiency, are also important factors in determining final costs. 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/

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 found was $3.32, and the lowest heating oil price found was $2.65. Also, the statewide average price for propane is based on consumption 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