Monday, June 4, 2012
Should you lock-in home heating oil price for the 2012-2013 winter?
By: Bob van der Valk June 4, 2012 In July 2008 crude oil hit an all time high of $147 a barrel, which put the price of raw material cost before refining at $3.50 per gallon Crude oil and heating oil prices are priced in sync and reached a recent historical low 2009 of $31 a barrel in January 2009. You could have locked in on $5 per gallon on heating oil for the 2008-2009 winter. Big mistake but hindsight is always 20-20. There is no need to be pre-paying heating oil contracts when there is very little upside in price but plenty of room for the prices to go back down. Home heating oil is already 2% down from a year ago when the Arab Spring was in full force with the cut off from Libyan crude oil driving the price crude oil ever upward. Today there is more downside pressure on crude oil and in the coming months we may even see in an instant replay of what happened in the latter part of 2008. That year was also a Presidential election year but political forces were not involved in the price of heating oil going into a freefall. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices have already declined to a price range of $80-85 with the current price at about $82 a barrel. That puts the price of raw material at about $2 a barrel for crude delivered at the refinery gate. Our recent mild winter will keep oil price manipulators, who artificially inflated the prices of petroleum products, away from hedging this market thereby driving prices up. You could pre-buy heating oil today at a locked-in price of $3 per gallon or pay as you go with each delivery. One warning, crude oil prices tends to bottom out at the end of each year, and then increase in the beginning of the year. Oil companies are on the “Last In –First Out” accounting system, for they lower inventories by December 31st, then building them back up right after the first of the year. The variants in setting the price of home heating oil will depend on the price of crude oil. By keeping an eye on the price of crude oil and you can not go wrong. About the author: Bob van der Valk lives in Terry, Montana and is a Petroleum Industry Analyst. He reports on fuel-related trends and events. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and http://bobthegasguyvandervalk.blogspot.com/2012/06/crude-oil-prices.html