NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. homeowners scared of paying through the roof for heating oil this winter are cruising online classified sites for deals on unwanted fuel — and finding them.
“I have an old pickup truck and I stock it with 50-gallon drums, and I have an oil transfer pump,” said Bob Difiore, a mechanic who lives on Long Island, outside New York City.
“I pull into people’s driveways and lower a hose through a window or other access points and I start pumping it into the drums.”
The deals are possible because many homeowners in the Northeast are switching from heating oil to cheaper natural gas or other alternative fuels, leaving them with tanks full of unused oil. And those still using heating oil are eager to snap it up at a discount as the oil market skyrockets.
“I just went on Craigslist one day and I saw someone selling heating oil. So I put an ad in there saying I was buying,” said Howard Urvine, a real estate agent in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Homeowners can shave $3 a gallon off the price of fuel now selling for closer to $4.50 a gallon through offers placed on Web sites like Craigslist.org for cities in the U.S. Northeast, the world’s largest heating oil consuming region.
Crude oil prices hit a record over $147 a barrel this month as booming demand in emerging economies like China stretches supplies across the globe — sending gasoline and heating oil prices to new peaks.
“I’m predicting some very lean times coming up in the next couple of months,” said Difiore. “I have to keep my family warm this winter.”
Editing by Christian Wiessner