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Low Sulfur Heating Oil and Dealers

Lately, many dealers are considering marketing low sulfur fuel as a heating oil product. Currently, refineries only produce low sulfur diesel fuel for transportation use. This fuel meets the EPA specifications that apply only to transportation diesel. However, since highway diesel and heating oil are basically the same product, they can be produced in the same manner and using the same standards. Presently, regular #2 heating oil complies with voluntary ASTM standards, which limit sulfur content on heating oil to 5,000 ppm (or 0.5%).

Regular #2 heating oil differs in price with low sulfur oil in an estimated value of one to two cents per gallon. However, if usage of low sulfur oil rises, this difference in prices should disappear, in view of the fact that refineries will achieve economies of scale when they start to produce a single product instead of two different ones.

Heating oil distributors in the United States are beginning to envision a new scope of niche markets for cutting-edge “green” oils, which include low sulfur oil and ultra-low sulfur oil, as well as renewable blended oils such as bioheat and biodiesel. E.T. Lawson Company in eastern Virginia has been marketing ULTRA, a low sulfur oil for over a decade. ULTRA was initially marketed as a premium fuel that burns cleaner, starts quicker, prolongs equipment life, and improves the environment among other benefits. Current ULTRA constitutes 100% of E.T. Lawson heating oil retailing. Don Allen, Jr., President of E.T. Lawson, says his technicians are discovering clear evidence that the amount of scaling in low sulfur-burning furnaces is comparatively less than systems used with regular #2 oil. The corporation is so convinced of low sulfur oil advantages that it guarantees that the oil will not gel, wax, ice, or sludge; otherwise, the company promises to clean the entire heating system for free and refund the cost of the tune-up.

E.T. Lawson is not the only company that uses low sulfur oil. Other companies are also starting to compete with products that are either low sulfur or blended with biodiesel. Frontier Oil, for example, is a Maine company that markets heating oil blended with 20% biodiesel made with soybeans grown locally.

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