What’s Happening with the Price of Oil?

Understanding the Energy Markets & Oil Price Fluctuations

oil costs maineAs you know, the price you pay for your heating oil in Maine can change quite a bit from year to year. Why does that happen?

It’s because the market price of oil is always tied to a variety of factors that are constantly changing. If you would like to view a long-term history of residential heating-oil prices in Maine and see how prices fluctuate, please go here.

As far as the reasons for energy price increases, there are many factors that cause energy prices (crude oil, fuel oil, natural gas, electricity, coal, propane, etc.) to rise and fall. These include:

What Happened in 2022?

Global crude oil prices soared to their highest point in eight years after Russia invaded Ukraine in late February. As you probably know all too well by now, as the price of crude oil goes, so goes gasoline, heating oil and the many other products derived from it.

Prior to this, energy prices in all sectors—oil, propane, natural gas and electricity—had been on a steady rise because global oil production hadn’t yet caught up with the pent-up demand that quickly followed the perceived end of the pandemic.

Even before the war in Ukraine further accelerated price increases, frenetic consumer spending–combined with persistent supply shortages–had sent inflation rates in our country to their highest level in 40 years. 

The only good news is that this shocking price spike occurred near the end of winter, instead of the beginning. And it’s also important to point out that for the most part, oil prices have remained fairly stable since 2014. You can view a heating oil price update from the U.S Energy Information Administration by going here.

Lagging Oil Supply

As was noted before, global crude oil production hasn’t yet caught up with pent-up demand. Unfortunately, a simplified and misinformed solution to the production shortfall that’s regularly offered up by some pundits and politicians in the U.S. is that, “we just have to drill for more oil at home.”

First, even if the U.S. did drill for enough oil and keep it all here to gobble up for ourselves, that crude oil would still be tightly married to the global oil market—and beholden to whatever the world’s highest bidder is willing to pay for it.

This “solution” is also ignoring the fact that right now, oil companies are feeling enormous pressure to give up fast growth in favor of steadier profits and stock-boosting finance moves, such as higher dividends, more share buybacks and reduced debt. Read more about this here.

Investors have also been reading the tea leaves, and realize that a zero-carbon emissions world is not too far off in our future. Big money is holding back on fossil fuel investments as legislators try to move the country toward more renewable energy. Investors instead are looking to sink their money into long-term, profitable opportunities in the burgeoning green energy field.  By the way, the heating oil industry is making excellent progress with making our fuel more dependent on renewable energy too. Read about the benefits Bioheat® fuel.

Another factor influencing oil companies is the memory of the breathtaking fall of crude oil prices during the early days of the pandemic. In the Spring of 2020, crude oil prices fell all the way to negative $30 per barrel! Traders had to pay buyers to take oil! Since then, however, prices have been steadily rising before they exploded in late February after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Could they drop that far again? Well, by mid-March, crude oil prices had begun to fall–but quickly took a U-turn and went up again as the situation in Ukraine remained unstable and the call for boycotts of Russian energy products picked up steam.

Maine Heating Oil Companies Look Out for You

People sometimes misunderstand how negatively higher prices impact local fuel dealers. Heating oil companies don’t make more money when prices rise—they actually make less.

Think of it this way: it’s like when the cost of coffee, milk or orange juice rises. It’s not the local grocery store that is profiting. Heating oil customers have a harder time paying their bills. They reduce expenditures. Heating oil companies may need to tap into their lines of credit more. Phones light up with questions from customers. So, the sooner energy prices drop, the happier your heating oil company will be. In short, this is an awful mess for everyone.

In the meantime, please reach out to your heating oil supplier to find out ways they may be able to help you reduce your energy costs, or handle payments more easily.

What You Can Count On

Local, independently owned full-service heating oil companies in Maine work hard to ensure homeowners and businesses in the area get the best prices possible without compromising on quality, safety or environmental concerns. They also ensure you have the heating and home comfort experience you deserve in several other areas as well, regardless of what’s happening in the market.

What Comes Next with Oil Prices?

We don’t know where things will go from here, but if history is a guide, we can expect to see prices drop pretty significantly in the not-too-distant future. If you would like to read the U.S. Department of Energy’s short-term energy outlook, please go here.

Nothing will make your local Maine heating oil company happier than when prices return to normal. Until then, trust your heating oil supplier to look out for you and let’s hope that—regardless of what happens with energy prices—we will soon be living in a more peaceful world.

Learn How Many Employees Get Their Start

heating oil supplier maineMost Maine oilheat consumers recognize their heating oil company as a local, family-oriented company that goes above and beyond. That’s true whether it’s delivering heating oil, providing superior service, or taking extra care of their customers—especially during the winter.

An independent consumer survey once asked Maine homeowners who heat with oil whether they trusted their heating oil company or other energy providers more. Homeowners chose local heating oil dealers by almost a four-to-one margin!

Trust is the foundation on which your Maine heating oil company operates, and they are proud to have earned the confidence of so many customers.  Consider your Maine heating oil company your energy savings partner who takes pride in delivering service with a personal touch.

Training Future Heating Oil Experts

If there’s a no-heat situation related to equipment failure, that’s when a certified heating oil service technician steps up to help. Often, they’re available 24 hours a day in the event of a customer emergency.

Being a service technician is a job that requires a high skill set, and Maine is fortunate to have the MEMA Technical Education Center (MTEC) in Brunswick. The nonprofit center is funded by members of the Maine Energy Marketers Association (MEMA).

The center is owned and operated by more than 300 Maine and New England member companies, who help to design educational programs, donate equipment, and hire graduates from the school they themselves fund. This means that almost all MTEC graduates get hired upon graduation. 

Since its founding, MTEC has helped to jump start the careers of high school graduates as well as veterans transitioning to civilian life.

Oil Burner Technician Training

If you’re looking for a well-paying job in a very stable industry with a lot of room for growth, consider MTEC’s Oil Burner Technician Training program as an option.

In just six weeks, students earn a certification of completion. With this certificate, six months of on-the-job training, and successful passage of the State of Maine Journeyman’s exam, students will be qualified for the Journeyman Oil Burner License. The course is comprised of hands-on training in the lab, video-simulated operations, and classroom lecture and discussion

Students work on leading high-efficiency technology and equipment and learn the latest energy conservation practices being implemented by professionals in the field.

If you or someone you know is interested in exploring the rewarding career opportunities in the heating oil industry, please go here to learn more.

Avoid Extreme Water Damage in Your Home

avoiding frozen pipes maineWe all know it gets downright cold in Maine, and one of the biggest worries for Pine Tree State residents at this time of year is losing the heat at home– and the ensuing danger of water pipes freezing.

When a pipe freezes, it’s at risk to burst, and a burst pipe can cause you a lot of trouble and money. With that in mind, here are some tips to help you avoid this stressful situation.

What to Do if Your Pipes Do Freeze

What to Do if You Lose Your Heat

Before calling your heating oil service company, try these steps to see if you can get your furnace or boiler to start generating heat again:

If you still can’t get heat, it’s time to call a heating oil service expert. Learn more about how a full-service heating oil company can help you get through winter.

professional heating repair maineIn our digital age, the first response to solving a mechanical problem is to research online. That’s why do-it-yourself (DIY) projects are such a huge trend these days. It seems like people of all skill levels and ages are viewing YouTube videos for a quick-fix way to repair whatever ails their home.

And, while it’s true these days you can learn a lot on YouTube—especially if you’re handy around the house and good with tools—some home-comfort jobs should always be left to the professionals.

DIY videos don’t usually show us what happens when that amateur heating system repair doesn’t go as planned. Over the years, there have been some costly—and even dangerous—consequences. This is especially true when a homeowner begins fiddling around with complicated heating systems.

Attempting to repair or replace the delicate parts of a modern oil-fired boiler or furnace can result in a costly mess at best—and a danger to your family at worst—because of poorly executed DIY work.

Dispatch An Oilheat Expert

Servicing today’s computer-driven, high-tech systems present challenges that only experts are prepared to manage. To get the most out of your system, you need to completely understand its ins and outs—and there’s no substitute for experience and rigorous, up-to-the-minute training to get there. Many fixes present unique challenges that often require expensive diagnostic equipment and extensive training to assess and repair.

The bottom line: If you need a heating system repair, don’t try to do it yourself—call on your local oilheat service provider for expert assistance. Certified oilheat technicians have the experience, training and tools to diagnose and fix your problem quickly, safely and correctly so you can focus on the things that matter in your life—like having fun with your family.

Rising Energy Prices Make It Hard for Everyone

fuel oil prices maineAs you no doubt know, the price you pay for your heating oil in Maine can change quite a bit from year to year. Why does that happen?

It’s because the market price of oil is always tied to a variety of factors that are constantly changing. If you would like to view a long-term history of residential heating-oil prices in Maine and see how prices fluctuate, please go here.

As far as the reasons for energy price increases, there are many factors that cause energy prices (crude oil, fuel oil, natural gas, electricity, coal, propane, etc.) to rise and fall. These include:

All of these factors have contributed to the normal trend of ups and downs in the energy markets over the years. It goes without saying that we are in an “up” market right now.

Heating Oil Prices in 2021

To get a better handle on what’s driving higher heating oil prices, we have to look at what’s happening with crude oil to make the first connection. Gasoline and heating oil, both of which are refined from crude oil, have both risen more than a dollar more per gallon vs. a year ago. As the price of crude oil goes, so goes gasoline, heating oil and many other products derived from it.

In early October, crude oil prices topped $80 per barrel, a benchmark that hadn’t been reached in seven years. That’s quite a jump from April 2020, when crude oil prices hit a rock bottom of $15 per barrel during the early stages of the pandemic. Since then, however, prices have been steadily rising.

But there is good news. In its Short-Term Energy Outlook, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects crude oil prices to remain in the $80 range until the end of the year. In 2022, the EIA believes lagging supply will finally overtake demand, leading to a fall in prices.

COVID-19, Supply and Demand

It’s no surprise that COVID-19 has played a large role in the current state of the market. Demand for oil sunk to deep depths as more countries went into lockdown last year. Global supply became diminished as producers responded by scaling back oil input. Now, with the wide availability of vaccines in most countries, people are traveling again and businesses have opened up. But global supply hasn’t caught up with all of this increased demand. When you match low supply with high demand, prices go up. Of course, this is true for many other commodities, not just for heating fuel. We’re seeing this right now across the board with consumer goods because of supply chain issues.

Wall Street Plays a Role

And then there’s the energy market itself. Right now, Wall Street speculators are not “bullish” on investing in the fossil fuel industry. They’re still skittish about how the crude oil market crashed and burned last year at the beginning of the pandemic.

Do you remember the Spring of 2020, when crude oil prices fell all the way to negative $30 per barrel? Traders had to pay buyers to take oil!

Investors are also holding back as they watch legislators try to move the country toward more renewable energy. By the way, the heating oil industry is making excellent progress with making their fuel more dependent on renewable energy too.

Maine Heating Oil Companies Look Out for You

People sometimes misunderstand how negatively higher prices impact local fuel dealers. Heating oil companies don’t make more money when prices rise—they actually make less.

Think of it this way: it’s like when the cost of coffee, milk or orange juice rises. It’s not the local grocery store that is profiting. (That’s left to the Wall Street investors). Heating oil customers have a harder time paying their bills. They reduce expenditures. Heating oil companies may need to tap into their lines of credit more. Phones light up with questions from customers. So the sooner energy prices drop, the happier your heating oil company will be.

In the meantime, please reach out your heating oil supplier to find out ways they may be able to help you reduce your energy costs, or handle payments more easily.

[h3] What You Can Count On

Local, independently owned heating oil companies in Maine work hard to ensure homeowners and businesses in the area get the best prices possible without compromising on quality, safety or environmental concerns. They also ensure you have the heating and home comfort experience you deserve in several other areas as well, regardless of what’s happening in the market.

Why Safety Codes Require It

oil delivery noise maineIf your oil tank is located in your basement and you’re home when a driver makes his delivery, you’ll probably hear a whistling noise as your tank starts to fill up. But don’t worry. This is perfectly normal.

Safety codes require that all indoor oil tanks with outside fill pipes have a vent alarm to prevent an overfill. This alarm is mandatory on any oil tank where the tank is not visible during filling, such as in a basement.

Let’s back up a little. Besides the oil tank itself, your heating oil storage system includes components like the fill pipe, vent pipe, and vent alarm.

What Happens During a Delivery

After the driver arrives, he connects the hose from his oil truck to the fill pipe and starts releasing the oil. As oil flows into the tank, the air is pushed back out. As the air goes through the vent alarm–located between your tank and vent pipe–it makes a whistling sound. When the whistling stops, the tank is just about full.

Since your basement tank is out of sight from the driver, the vent alarm prevents overfilling and the possibility of a spill. Safety codes do not allow your heating oil company to deliver fuel to the indoor tank if the vent alarm is not working.

About Your Oil Piping

Help Your Driver Make Safe Deliveries

Ice and snow can turn an already tough job into a potentially hazardous one. Maneuvering with a heavy hose while navigating slippery surfaces can be challenging; sometimes delivery drivers lose their footing and sustain injuries.

You can help the driver make safer deliveries by keeping the path to your oil tank clear of snow and ice and removing any nearby obstacles, such as fallen branches.

It is also important to shovel or plow your driveway and keep it free of ice. Safety codes prohibit your heating oil company from parking an oil truck on an incline unless it is perfectly dry.

Marking the edges of your driveway makes it easier for delivery drivers to navigate. Remember, just because you can get your car down your driveway doesn’t mean a 15-ton heating oil truck can make it too.
If you have any questions about deliveries or your oil storage tank system, please reach out to your local Maine heating oil company.

If you’re thinking about replacing your oil storage tank, you can read about your options here.

heating oil lifespan maineMany items we buy have an expiration date: milk, eggs, vegetables, bread, cosmetics, medication and so on. But does home heating oil also have a “best-used-by” date?

If you’re fairly new to oilheat and you ended the heating season with one-quarter of oil still left in your tank, you may be wondering if that fuel will degrade as it sits unused for several months.

So, the question is, will your heating oil still be good to use once you turn your heat on again when the fall chill arrives?

There’s no need to worry. The average “shelf life” of heating oil ranges between 18-24 months. It can last even longer if your oilheat company delivers high-quality ultra-low sulfur fuel that has been treated with additives, which act as a preservative.

Other Factors To Consider

Another factor that affects the quality of heating oil is the condition of your tank. If water gets inside the tank, it can eventually break down the oil and even corrode your storage unit.

Here is a common reason this happens. During the warm months, condensation can form inside a heating oil tank that has more air in it than fuel. Because water is denser than heating oil, it will settle to the bottom of your fuel oil storage tank. The moisture will attract micro-organisms that live in water. Although these organisms will eventually die off, their remains will create sediment at the bottom of your tank. This sludge can get into your fuel line and clog it, which will cause your oil furnace or oil boiler to shut down.

That’s why most oilheat companies recommend that you go through summer with a full tank of oil. Keeping your tank full during the summer prolongs its life. That’s because the same condensation that results in sludge can also corrode your tank from the inside out – a big problem that could be difficult to see coming and costly to remediate.

Why not contact your local oilheat company now and get your tank filled before the fall delivery rush begins? By taking care of this now, you’ll have plenty of quality heating oil in storage to keep you warm when it’s time to start up your oil boiler or oil furnace again.

about biofuel maineBioheat® fuel is an affordable home energy source that’s making an impact right now on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for our climate. It’s efficiency and cleanliness are leading us on a bright path to a carbon-neutral future that is not too far away. 

Here’s an example of how Bioheat fuel is making an impact. Just two heating oil retailers in New England displaced nearly 1.5 million gallons of heating oil with approved Bioheat fuel in the first half of 2020. Doing this resulted in an 80% reduction in GHG emissions, compared to traditional heating oil.

For the heating oil industry to achieve its 2023 target of 15% fewer emissions, the standard Bioheat fuel blend will need to be in the 20% range. There are already many heating oil companies in New England that are delivering Bioheat fuel at this level. Some are even delivering blends as high as 50% (B50 Bioheat SuperPlus™ fuel)

Where Does Bioheat Fuel Come From?

Biodiesel is a gallon-for-gallon substitute for petroleum-based fuels, which have a higher carbon intensity. By 2030, it’s estimated that biodiesel will displace 529 million gallons of heating oil.

Biodiesel is a non-toxic, degradable renewable liquid fuel. The biodiesel that’s blended with ultra-low sulfur heating oil to create Bioheat fuel is generally produced by agricultural byproducts, including used cooking oil, animal fats, inedible corn oil, soybean oil and canola oil.

This puts excess oil and fats to good use. Food is never sacrificed for fuel in the production of Bioheat fuel. Bioheat fuel is also sourced and produced right here in the United States, supporting local farmers, local industries and local economies.

Bioheat Fuel: Readily Available in Maine

Bioheat fuel is readily available now through local retail oil companies and it requires no modifications to your existing system.

The bottom line: in Maine, we are well on our way along the road to a carbon neutral future!

To learn more about the benefits of Bioheat fuel and the other advantages of having an oil-heated home, please visit our website.

about heating oil maineMany people may shy away from purchasing a home that uses heating oil, but that’s usually because they are unfamiliar with all the great benefits of this fuel, which continues to get better and better over time.

There are so many benefits to living in an oil-heated home. For example, the flame inside the heating oil system burns hotter than other types of systems. As a result, homeowners who use heating oil often report that their homes are warmer with a more evenly distributed heat.

Plus, you have so much choice about the company that delivers your oil and services your equipment. This way, you can select a company that best fits your needs and your budget. And heating oil companies are known for delivering top-notch service and customer support. So, you can feel very confident knowing that you and your family are going to be in good hands.

Today’s Heating Oil Is Extremely Clean-Burning

Advanced heating fuels like ultra-low sulfur heating oil (ULSHO) and Bioheat® fuel are becoming more popular around the country. ULSHO contains very little sulfur and this helps heating oil systems run more efficiently.

Bioheat fuel is the industry’s official registered name for the fuel that consists of a blend of ultra-low sulfur heating oil with renewable biodiesel that’s made from organic and recycled products. These products can range from soybean oil, used cooking oils, inedible corn oil, canola, tallow, fats and even algae.

Bioheat fuel is sourced and produced right here in the United States, supporting local farmers, local industries and local economies. That’s good news for Maine!

The most refined grade of heating oil available, Bioheat fuel is one of the cleanest burning heating sources for your home or business. It reduces greenhouse gas emissions significantly and no changes to your existing heating oil system are necessary if you want to use Bioheat fuel.

Why New Oil Tanks Are Better

Any real estate agent can tell you that the biggest obstacle in selling a home that uses heating oil often revolves around the oil storage tank. But that obstacle can easily become a nonissue if the home has a modern, above-ground oil tank.

There have been big improvements in heating-oil tanks over the years. One of the most important is double-walled construction with an outside layer of corrosion-proof galvanized steel. This keeps the chance of a costly leak to a minimum. Other innovations include:

To sum up, today’s heating-oil storage tanks provide peace of mind and convenience—in addition to all the other benefits of heating your home with oil!

A heating-oil storage tank also gives the homeowners the ability to safely store an adequate supply of heating oil that’s ready for immediate use whenever a need to heat the home arises.

Today’s heating oil–– the more you know, the more comfortable you’ll feel about using it!

To learn more about the benefits of Bioheat fuel and the other advantages of having an oil-heated home in Maine, please visit our website.

heating oil rebate maineIf they act fast, homeowners in the Pine Tree State can receive rebates of up to $500 when they install a new high-efficiency heating oil system and a new aboveground heating oil tank.

Your heating oil dealer can help you qualify for these rebates and take care of the whole process for you. Funds are limited for this program and rebates will be allotted on a first-come, first-served basis.

The rebate program is managed by the Maine Energy Marketers Association with the support of the National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA). Here’s how you save:

The process to secure a rebate is super simple! All you need to do is speak with your Maine heating oil dealer who will be glad to help you qualify for these rebates as well as other incentives.

Long-Term Savings

Besides the immediate savings from equipment rebates, you will save money on heating oil for years to come when you upgrade your equipment. There have been major improvements to heating oil equipment. The latest systems are small, smart and super-efficient, and can not only keep your home toasty warm, but save you, on average, about 20% on your annual heating costs.

Heating Oil Keeps Getting Better

Heating oil has been reformulated with Bioheat® fuel, which consists of ultra-low sulfur heating oil blended with renewable biodiesel. The most refined grade of heating oil available, Bioheat fuel is one of the cleanest burning heating sources for your home or business. It reduces greenhouse gas emissions significantly and no changes to your existing heating oil system are necessary if you want to use Bioheat fuel.

Bioheat Fuel Lowers The Country’s Carbon Footprint

Here’s why the use of Bioheat fuel is a game changer in terms of reducing carbon emissions.

Feel Good About Heating Oil In Maine

Knowing more about today’s heating oil in Maine will make you feel good about how you heat your home—now and into the future. That’s why it’s important for you to know that with every passing year, heating oil continues its evolvement into a newer, cleaner and more efficient fuel. The energy outlook has never been brighter for Maine homeowners who heat with oil!

Please go here if you would like to find out more about Bioheat fuel.

*Source: Biodiesel.org