Mainers could see more money in their pockets this fall and winter, thanks to lower heating oil and gasoline prices.

Increased domestic production of crude oil has driven down the average price of home heating oil in Maine to $3.32 per gallon, the lowest in more than two years, according to a weekly survey conducted by the Maine Governor’s Energy Office. Some dealers in southern Maine are offering cash prices as low as $2.99 per gallon this week.

The average price of gasoline also has decreased to $3.43 per gallon – down more than 30 cents since spring – and could continue falling, experts say.

The decreased price of petroleum products this fall is attributed to increased production of domestic oil, which has offset instability in the oil-rich Middle East countries of Syria and Iraq.

U.S. crude oil prices are $10 to $13 per barrel lower this October than a year ago. Tancred Lidderdale, a spokesman for the U.S. Energy Information Administration, said that for every $1 change in the barrel price, the price of petroleum products, whether heating oil or gasoline, changes by 2.4 cents per gallon.

Whether prices will stay low is unclear.


“We never know where the market is going,” said Jamie Py, president of the Maine Energy Marketers Association, which represents the state’s oil dealers. “Our opinion has been that the market was being propped up by over-speculation, so maybe they are coming back down to where they should be. For consumers, it’s great.”

James Gemmell, spokesman for Opportunity Alliance, a Portland-based organization that administers the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance and Keep ME Warm programs in conjunction with United Way, said the lower prices allow residents to stretch their heating dollars further.

“But we’re more concerned with the growing number of people who need our assistance,” he said.

Deborah Turcotte, spokeswoman for MaineHousing, which oversees distribution of LIHEAP funding statewide, said Maine has not been told how much money it will receive this year. However, she said, in general terms, lower heating oil prices are good news because assistance is based on need, not the current price of oil.

Last year at this time, the average price of heating oil was $3.53 per gallon. It climbed steadily throughout the winter and peaked at $3.89 per gallon in February.

For a 275-gallon tank fill-up, the average savings between today and last year at this time is $57.75.


Although oil is still the state’s No. 1 source of heat, Mainers have gradually been moving toward others in the past several years. A state energy office report last year revealed that Maine residents have decreased their oil use by 26 percent since 2007.

Many Mainers have switched to natural gas, which has become more widely available to residential customers. Electric heat pumps also have gained in popularity.

The average price of propane, another popular heating source, is $2.83 per gallon, an increase of 13 cents over this time last year, according to the Governor’s Energy Office. That price applies only to those who use at least 900 gallons per year. Those who use less pay a higher price.

Py said that as temperatures fall, demand for oil will increase, and that could drive prices back up, although he could not speculate how much.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration also has projected that the price of both heating oil and gasoline will fall in 2015.

The same domestic and global factors that have contributed to the drop in oil prices have caused gasoline prices to fall steadily as well.


Maine is still running about 10 cents higher than the national average, according to GasBuddy, a national tracking site, but Tom Kloza, the company’s chief oil analyst, said he expects the price of gas to continue falling, perhaps as low as $3.10 per gallon by December nationally.

“The cheapest numbers are likely to occur when refining production recovers (from regular fall maintenance),” he said. “The actual bottom in this current down-cycle may not occur until January.”

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @PPHEricRussell

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