U.S. Pleads to Big Oil Barons: Share Wealth; Cut Gas Prices
By Mike Blair
As more and more Americans feel the pinch of rising gas and oil prices, it is “time for President Bush to get on the phone and make some calls.”
That succinct commentary by a network television broadcaster was directed squarely at the Bush administration with the recommendation that someone in the White House call the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and the big oil companies and demand they share some of their soaring profits with strapped U.S. citizens whipsawed between higher prices and static income.
The cost of gasoline is apparent to everyone. But not much has appeared in the national media about the increasing cost of home heating oil.
American Free Press checked on the current costs to heat a home for the coming winter in New York and Virginia, taking these two states as examples of what is likely to occur nationwide.
The worst and most dramatic cost of heating a home is likely to occur for those who use fuel oil and natural gas, which is also up in cost.
In Virginia heating oil stands at about $2.80 per gallon, which makes it about 30 cents more than gasoline at the pump in certain areas.
The most dramatic price change, however, is for kerosene, which many people use to heat their homes, particularly if their tanks are outside and subject to having frost problems. The price for kerosene is hanging at $3.25 per gallon. In New York, the costs of both fuel oil and kerosene are
about the same in most locations.
Fuel oil and kerosene dealers with whom American Free Press discussed the matter said they “don’t have a clue” in which direction prices will go as winter approaches but that they expect costs to climb.
Petroleum analysts say home heating fuels could jump from 40 to 70 percent before the winter is over.
Likewise, natural gas is expected to rise about 50 percent. Propane, commonly called “bottled gas,” will increase by winter’s end to about 30 percent.
Those who heat with electricity will also find a modest increase, about 5 percent or $38 for the heating season. Ten years ago, electricity was considered “out of sight” for heating homes and fuel oil and natural gas were offered as cheaper alternatives.
Many analysts contend that big oil companies are gouging American consumers. Crude oil is selling for $64 to $65 per barrel at a cost to produce of about $6 per barrel. Some even suggest oil companies have organized a cabal to keep prices out of sight, demonstrated by the fact that profits are three times what they were a year ago.
American consumers will have a hard time this winter, particularly the elderly on fixed incomes. With the average home in New York requiring from three to four tanks during a heating season, the cost to heat a home with oil will run from $2,400 to well over $3,000.
Both federal and state governments are doing little to compensate for this. In New York, as an example, fuel assistance from the state is at a maximum of $500 this winter, up only $100 from last year.
In Virginia the figures for fuel assistance will not be available until December, but last year assistance ranged from $200 to $300. It could be even lower this year, Social Service workers predict, because more people are applying for it, and there is “only so much available.”
(Issue #44, October 31, 2005)