EIA cites concern about heating oil, natural gas stocks

A US Energy Information Administration official told Congress Thursday that the agency is concerned about the possibility of home heating oil shortages next winter.


Washington, DC�A US Energy Information Administration official told Congress Thursday that the agency is concerned about the possibility of home heating oil shortages next winter.

John Cook, EIA's petroleum division director, testified before a Senate Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on recent fuel shortages. EIA is the US Department of Energy�s data-gathering bureau.

Cook said, "Although consumers are now focusing on gasoline, EIA is concerned about winter distillate and natural gas supplies."

Cook explained that, due to high demand and low stocks, the buildup of distillate inventories is lagging. "Even with a normal inventory build during the summer and early fall, we will enter the winter with lower-than-normal stocks," he said.

On Thursday, Energy Sec. Bill Richardson expressed concern about low home heating oil supplies in the Northeast this winter and urged Congress to approve legislation creating a 2 million bbl heating oil stockpile.

Cook said natural gas prices are high this summer and may prompt industrial and utility customers to switch to distillates, further cutting inventory build. He added that gas stocks may not rise high enough to meet next winter's peak consumption.

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