SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — You ask, we answer! The Your Stories Team is tackling high heating costs.

We’ve received a few questions regarding home heating oil, and why prices are so high.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the U.S. average for residential heating oil hit a record high in early November at $5.90 a gallon.

While many homeowners in N.Y. use natural gas to heat, the state ranks number one in the country for heating oil consumption as reported by the EIA.

According to EIA, just shy of 19% of homeowners in N.Y. used fuel oil in 2019. That was well above the national average of 4%.

Patrick De Haan, the lead petroleum analyst for GasBuddy, said there are two main reason the price for home heating oil is so high: less refining capacity at oil refineries, mostly due to COVID-19 shutdowns and sanctions against Russia for its war on Ukraine.

“Russia’s oil, natural gas, Russia’s heating oil and distillate fuel are stuck in Russia. As global demand is high, that is going to push prices up more dramatically,” De Haan said.

Patrick Penfield, professor of supply chain practice at Syracuse University, said the nation is seeing record low inventory for diesel and home heating oil.

Penfield added increasing production at oil refineries is not easily done. He said it will likely cost companies millions of dollars to ramp up production.

“The gas, oil and refining companies have been limiting the amount of capital investment. They kind of see what is happening, that people are going to be using more renewable energy sources. It is very costly to increase capacity at refineries. They’re probably looking at a 10-to-12-year payback,” Penfield said.

De Haan said many refineries finished fall maintenance at plants which has helped increase production.

He said wholesale gasoline prices are “plummeting” as of late. He anticipated gas prices dropping in the Syracuse area by as much as $.50 by Christmas.

He said home heating oil customers will see some relief, though it could take time.

“Expect some relief but not what I would consider significant, but some relief, nonetheless…But it really depends on your supplier, how much they pre-purchased at a much higher price or if they are even able to get supply because things are very much touch and go,” De Haan said.

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