Natural gas and oil prices began rising again this week as parts of the eastern United States received their first significant snowfall of the 2005-2006 winter season. As of yesterday’s market close, Bloomberg.com is reporting that heating oil is trading at $1.87 per gallon (compared to a gasoline price of $1.59) on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) while natural gas at New York City gate is trading for $15.84 per million BTU.
Most Americans are very familiar with the price of gasoline per US gallon, but those other commodity prices are less immediately obvious. To put them in perspective, the average price for a million BTU’s of natural gas last year was about $6.00 and it was less than $2.00 in 1996. The average price for a gallon of heating oil last year was $1.31 and it was $0.77 in 1996.
Maybe it would be clearer if I put these numbers on a graph, but it is time to get dressed for work. Bottom line – oil and gas prices are at a level where consumers are hurting and producers are chuckling all the way to the bank.
(Note: I have a personal interest in comparing current energy fuel prices to those existing in 1996. That was the year that I put Adams Atomic Engines, Inc. to sleep because no one was interested in an alternative to petroleum. The potential customers kept telling me that engines burning oil and gas were cheaper and always would be.)