I don't really know much about how the retail home delivery heating oil
But, the recent plummet in crude prices has me wondering what kind of
fun and games are going to take place between fuel oil dealers and their
customers who engaged in fixed price contracts for the coming heating
season back when prices were ascending at an unbelievable rate.
I assume the dealers must have entered into futures purchasing contracts
with their suppliers to protect them against further price increases and
those contracts will have to be honored by the dealers unless they
choose bankrupcy instead.
I can forsee that the dealers are going to have a helluva time getting
all the customers who entered into guaranteed price contracts with them
to cough up what they agreed to pay when the retail market price of
heating oil drops significantly. Particularly so if those customers are
being negatively hit by other aspects of the current crazy economy and
use that as a justification to default on their contracts.
It should be interesting....Educated comments appreciated.
Southwest Airlines in a nutshell---they looked fabulous early on, now
they're also hurting in spades as their contracted fuel supplies are
still lagging current market prices.
If dealers were wise they didn't forward contract all or had some other
hedge positions. Homeowners may be stuck--that would depend on the
For farm inputs (diesel, anhydrous, chemicals, etc.) there's a similar
situation/problem. Another is contracted grain to the ethanol producers
as an example. Some have defaulted on those _to_ the farmer or grain
dealers (local equity elevator operators and similar).
The individual homeowner is probably not out more than a few hundred
bucks to perhaps a thou while the others may be looking at up to the
million $$ range for larger operations.
Lack of stability in pricing is in many ways worse than absolute price.
Southwest's average hedge for oil is $51/bbl. As long as oil stays above
that price, Soutwest is golden.
This is not forever, though, Southwest's options will run out... about the
same time as the price of oil drops back to reasonable.
However, there is the unforseen: Obama could re-instate the ban on offshore
drilling and the price of oil will jump back up by 100%.
Southwest, by the way, was not the only airline to insure their costs.
Continental and other carriers did the same. But when a minor cash-crunch
hit the airlines about a year ago, these companies sold their futures
contracts to raise cash.
I can see it's easy to misinterpret intent -- I wasn't intending to
imply SW was above actual market but that they're now more nearly in the
same boat as the others as prices run the other way and options are more
Don't recall precisely where but within last couple weeks/month(?) saw a
much more detailed analysis and while they're still better off than
most, not nearly as much an advantage as previously. That analysis also
included projections going forward of comparative status under a couple
of postulated scenarios which showed gaps narrowing further.
And, yes, all of 'em hedge to a greater or lesser degree...
I got caught in this, and locked in (not a ceiling, a fixed price) in late
Homeowners tend to do their heating oil contracts in late summer and early fall,
because usually thats just before anticipatec demand drives up prices. This
year, of course, that didn't work out quite that way! :-(
But I dont think other concerns like agriculture using fuel year round or with a
different seasonality would be caught quite so much as homeowners were this
As for people reneging, some are if the penalty in the contract is a lot less
than the difference between what they project for costs during the winter going
by contract price vs. going by current price. Which is leaving the smaller oil
delivery outfits in a lurch.
I plan to stick to contract. I did fabulously with my contract the previous
year; I guess this year is my karma-payback ;-) Silly me I neglected to figure
in a worldwide economic meltdown starting September 15. I'm taking my crystal
ball into the shop for repairs...
I've been doing the contract pre-buy for about 15 years now. Some
years you win, some years you lose. In the long term, I'm still a
little ahead. This year, I will probably lose about $5-600 or so. Not
enough to get excited over. There have been years when I came out
ahead almost that much. This is just one of the years when I lose.
That's kinda how I look at it. I do think this is the last time I'll be going
for the fixed plan rather than the ceiling price plan. Although in August when
I locked in the ceiling price plan had a ceiling price way above the current
fixed price, much more than what I'd seen before.
Oil tanks aren't that expensive. If you'd put in a half dozen 330
gallon tanks you can store a season's worth of fuel. I did this and I
buy at several times through out the warm season to average the lower
prices. Why play the futures market?
And did that help you at all this year? This year, those who buy at current
prices during the heating season are the hands down winners.
So I don't see an advantage of your plan. Besides, I kinda like my finished
And dang it all, arn't the prices for repairs out of sight this year? And
then the backlog of other units waiting to be repaired and the bumping ahead
in line by all those with the extended warranty....
I swear an oath: next time I am going to find the cash for one of them
'consumer-assurance' protection plans on my next crystal ball. But first
got to fix that hole in the drywall about the size of that dang-nabit
That's RIGHT gosh-darn it. They don't make 'em crystal balls the way they used
It's sure disappointing. And this after I found out there's been a huge recall
on the model of Make-People-Do-What-I-Want-Wand I have... no surprise because
that hasn't worked in a long time!
If you have a contract dont buy from that dealer or you will likely
pay what you agreed to pay.
Some contracts do not allow you to buy from another dealer. I don't know how
well that can be enforced.
Shrug. Makes no difference here. I pay once a year, up front, and get a
"locked-in" rate, which is about .25 cents a gallon less than the current
"pay as you go" rate. I "locked-in" at $3.59, but that only means that they
can't deduct any more than that per gallon for any deliveries for the entire
year. If the price drops below the "lock-in" rate, then I pay less. My
delivery last week was $3.29 a gallon. If oil drops down to last year's
rates, I will probably be paid up for nearly an extra year.
If you want some information for negotiations, you can look here.
Latest info should be up after 1300 on 13 Nov:
If you muck around a bit on the basic tonto site, you can wander off
in all sorts of interesting directions.
I'm not locked in but want some ammo when I start negotiations for
first delivery for oil and propane systems
Unless someone or their lawyer can prove some fraud in the contract, I
don't see how customers who signed a legal contract for such a futures
purchase has any recourse to get out of it, nor should they. The erosion
of personal responsibility in this country is completely out of control
and has to stop.
I agree with you but the idea of no responsibility for anything has
become rampant. Who knows how to stop it. Look at the GM situation, they
focused everything on building fluffed up trucks to the point that from
everything I read they didn't even bother with R&D on anything else. So
now instead of a normal be responsible for what you did situation where
the execs would be tossed under the bus for bad decision making and the
company picking what version of bankruptcy they think might work which
ultimately would mean the company would be reborn or its assets picked
over by others with better ideas they want us to bail them out. Same
idea with the various brokerages where many of these people because of
their behavior contributed to the implosion of that industry and
screwing normal responsible folks getting rewarded with huge golden
parachute payments and mega bonuses even though they screwed things up.
And I think it's only going to get worse during the current economic
crunch. Too many of folks who have been confusing want with need all
their lives and now can't afford to pay for what they've bought, will
make up ridiculous reasons to blame it all on the sellers and lenders so
they can self-justify welching on their obligations.
I truly think I was fortunate to have started my career and marriage
during what I have come to regard some of the best years our country has
ever had (the 1950s).
When I look around now and see believable statistics like . . . . 50% of
current births in the USA are to unwed mothers and, 20% of american
students don't achieve high school diplomas (And at the risk of my being
damned as un PC, that student percentage is even higher if considering
only African American and Hispanics.)
Couple those kind of statistics with our nearly complete exporting of
factory jobs which would have provided work to non-high school grads, I
think I have good reason to fear for the America my grandkids are
Just my .02,
Yes, but we do need to be sure we deal with the sellers / lenders who's
behavior has ranged from deceptive to fraudulent.
I expect you are correct.
This needs further breakdown since the lump figure is misleading. Only
the teenage portion of this is really a significant issue. There are
many single parents (both sexes) who do just fine.
and, 20% of american
Yes, the demographic are not even. If there is one glimmer of hope, this
latest election may help on that front by lending some credibility to
the teachers trying to tell the disaffected student that they have life
options other than drug dealer or gang member if they study hard.
Yes, between the failing education system shifting from helping students
find the right career path for them to telling them that they are
garbage if they don't get into a trendy "high tech" field, and the loss
of manufacturing jobs (which is not just due to outsourcing, some parts
of the country have actively tried to get rid of manufacturers in favor
of bio-tech and other trendy stuff), we have made it impossible for a
sizable portion of our population to make a reasonable living.
The fact is that all are not created equal and no amount of education
will make it possible for 100% of the population to hold a high tech
engineering job. We have devalued skilled crucial professions, treating
those who have the skills as some sort of second class citizens, simply
because they aren't trendy. Our politicians ridicule plumbers who expect
to get fair pay for their skills and knowledge.
I don't see any way out of this mess, easy or not, and I am quite
thankful that I do not have any offspring who are going to have to
suffer through this collapsing civilization.
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