Oil heating prices on the rise ahead of winter

Published Nov. 6, 2022 4:49 p.m. ET

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Even with New Brunswick enjoying double-digit temperatures at this moment, there’s already concern for what winter may bring when it comes to staying warm.

“Up North, they’re just figuring whether they’re going to be paying for food or heating their homes,” said one local man outside the hockey arena on Sunday. “I mean, they’re going from $200 a month in heating bill to $500-$600 a month. It’s scary.”

Saturday brought an unusually high jump in diesel fuel prices across the province and home heating oil wasn’t spared from the increase. It jumped up to 284.6 per litre in New Brunswick, a 67.2 cent rise from days earlier, according to the New Brunswick Energy and Utilities Board.

“It’s going to be felt by everybody,” said another local man on Sunday. “It’s going to add prices, prices are going to continue to go up, so nothing good in that going up that much, that fast.”

James Farquhar, the general manager at Scotia Fuels in Halifax, says his company has been warned about a possible heating oil shortage this year thanks to the ongoing war in Ukraine.

"The Russian supplies for gasoline and natural gas and other products are being closed off in that market, so therefore the European market are trying to find supplies elsewhere,” he said. “So they're hopping over to this side of the Atlantic and buying up a lot of the product here."

Although the current volatile markets are hard to predict, he says he doesn’t expect a price decrease in the foreseeable future.

"Never, never been this high,” he said. “We see prices that are unbelievably high and the price fluctuation on a daily bases is unbelievable. Normally, this time of year, or anytime of year, it's a penny or two on the wholesale price. I'm seeing, 5, 10, sometimes 15 or even 20 cent wholesale swings on a daily bases."

He says another factor now, as we inch closer to winter, is demand will increase.

“Hopefully the winter’s not too bad and the price starts to come down and the war in Ukraine ends soon,” he said.

In the meantime, he says there are a few ways that people can do to try and make their heating oil last a little bit longer this winter.

“There’s lots of programs available through Parker Street, United Way, and some of the food banks offer heating assistance. I know the government offers a heating assistance program as well, those are great programs. In terms of what you can do at home, turning your thermostat down a couple degrees, putting on a sweater, trying to do a solar gain during the day, making sure that you’re not blocking your heat registers.”

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