Heating oil prices rising too

With home heating oil prices taking a jump, gas prices back up to 2008 levels, and talk of $100 and even $125 per-barrel oil prices, things are not exactly merry and bright on the energy front heading into the new year. With the relatively mild weather thus far, the heating oil situation looked like it was headed for an equally mild seasonal increase in prices. However, skyrocketing per-barrel prices for crude are directly responsible this time for climbing heating oil prices, which have risen more than 50 cents from this same time last year. Dec. 20 prices, according to the New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning, are about $3.14 per gallon. A month ago, heating oil prices were running about $2.99. With much of the nation experiencing a winter chill in the days before Christmas, analysts expected heating oil demand to be some 4.6 percent above normal this week. Propane has likewise followed a similar trajectory. Prices have risen nearly 20 cents this month alone, to a Dec. 20 price of $3.26 per gallon. In the last three months, the price of crude oil has risen by more than $30 per barrel. And most analysts agree, come May, prices will reach at least $100 – possibly even higher. Ever-increasing demand in China also is boosting oil prices. In its weekly report, the federal Energy Information Administration said Dec. 22 that crude stocks dipped some 5.33 million barrels, further supporting crude prices of $90.80. The most noticeable impact higher barrel prices have is on the price of gasoline. The New Hampshire state average for a gallon of regular gas is just over $3, with the Manchester and Portsmouth areas running a few cents lower – but all reflecting increases of more than a dime in the last month. The nation’s average is also about $3 per gallon. Mid-October 2008 was the last time retail gas prices eclipsed the $2.90 mark. — CINDY KIBBE/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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