API urges home heating oil users to fill tanks

The American Petroleum Institute has urged New England heating oil consumers and suppliers to refill storage tanks before the winter heating season begins. API Policy Analysis and Statistics Director John Felmy said, 'We realize that fuel prices are higher than last year and there may be an inclination on the part of homeowners to wait until heating oil is really needed to fill up.' But, he said, the delivery system could be strained if homeowners and suppliers wait until the first cold snap.


The American Petroleum Institute today urged New England heating oil consumers and suppliers to refill storage tanks before the winter heating season begins.

John Felmy, API's policy analysis and statistics director, said, "We realize that fuel prices are higher than last year and there may be an inclination on the part of homeowners to wait until heating oil is really needed to fill up."

But, he said, the delivery system could be strained if homeowners and suppliers wait until the first cold snap to fill up their heating oil storage.

"We simply request that homeowners and suppliers do what is prudent in preparing for winter," Felmy told a town hall meeting called by Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.).

Felmy said the US government should release federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program funds now to help disadvantaged customers prepare for winter. He said financial aid should be given to fuel oil dealers who can't afford to store as much inventory as normal and to independent trucking operators suffering from higher heating oil and diesel prices.

Felmy cautioned against measures he said would be counterproductive for the market.

"We do not support using the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for anything other than a supply emergency, an international emergency, or some physical disaster such as a major disruption of the pipeline system," he said.

He said API also is concerned that filling a 2 million bbl heating oil reserve in the Northeast US this fall could reduce supplies available to consumers refilling their tanks before winter.

Felmy warned, "Any disruption in one market may affect other markets. Consequently, we are concerned about the potential impact of a late-season heat wave, an early sharp cold snap, hurricanes that could shut down natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico, and any electrical outages that could occur independent of fuels issues."

He said states and cities have imposed sulfur constraints on heating oil that have compartmentalized the supply system. He also said a number of pending environmental regulations will constrain US refinery output.

"We implore decision makers to consider the supply impacts of these and all other regulations that they promulgate," Felmy said.

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