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Retail heating oil price hits winter low

U.S. retail heating oil prices fell over the last week to the lowest level so far this winter season, as heating oil inventories were way above average, the government said on Thursday.
/ Source: Reuters

U.S. retail heating oil prices fell over the last week to the lowest level so far this winter season, as heating oil inventories were way above average, the government said on Thursday.

The national heating oil price dropped 2 cents to $2.40 per gallon, the federal Energy Information Administration said in its weekly survey of heating fuel costs around the country.

The latest price is far below the $2.69 a gallon record set at the start of the heating season in early October, but still up 41 cents from a year ago.

Record warm U.S. January temperatures reduced heating oil demand and built inventories that are now well above the upper end of the average range for this time of year, said the EIA, which is the analytical arm of the Department of Energy. This helped push retail heating fuel prices down.

In a separate report, the agency said total U.S. heating oil inventories increased 400,000 barrels to 57.7 million barrels at the end of last week, up 12.9 million barrels from a year earlier.

While current prices are lower, the EIA forecasts total heating oil costs will rise 24 percent this winter from last year to an average $1,421 per household in the Northeast, the world’s biggest heating oil market.

In its latest price survey, District of Columbia residents once again paid the most for heating oil at $2.76 a gallon, down a nickel in the last week, the agency said.

The next-highest prices were in New York, down to $2.55 a gallon, New Jersey, down to $2.46, and Vermont, down to $2.45.

The lowest price for heating oil was in Nebraska at $2.03 a gallon, down 1.1 cents, followed by Iowa, down to $2.12, Kentucky, down to $2.13, and Ohio, down to $2.17.