Slide 9 of 19
- At the end of December, distillate fuel oil stocks were about 116 million barrels, which is more than 14 percent below their 5-year average for this time of year, and about 7 percent less than last year’s low levels. As of January 19, the most recent weekly data, distillate stocks remained at about that level, which is slightly higher than a year ago.
- If the currently depressed level of distillate stocks continues, the result could be strong upward pressure on prices for the distillate fuels through the winter. Recently, the tightness in distillate markets, particularly in the Northeast, has worsened and left the heating oil market more vulnerable to near-term shocks from potential cold weather events or disruptions in the logistical system than was expected earlier this fall.
- Unless the second half of the winter in the Northeast is unusually mild or world crude oil prices drop significantly, the current high prices for heating oil and diesel fuel will likely continue until next spring.