Archive for the ‘Fuel Oil’ Category.

Tuesday 24 October, 2023

Inflation and How it Affects Energy Pricing

The global pandemic from a few years ago threw the world economy into turmoil. Not only did many businesses shut down both temporarily (and some permanently), but the supply chain was log-jammed. This affected each and every market globally. It was the equivalent to someone grabbing and pulling the emergency brake on a high-speed train. Basically, it has repercussions which we still feel today.

The way in which leaders from around the world, and more specifically our own government, handled the crisis seemed to add fuel to the fire. They injected economies with money created out of thin air, trillions of dollars in fact. More money in a closed system where less work is being done is the perfect recipe for inflation. And we saw plenty of it.

At one point the year-over-year inflation was in the mid-double digits. It has since crept back down to mid single digits. But, we are not out of the woods yet. Fuel and heating oil, like every commodity, was hit hard by inflation. The prices crept upwards for some time. People looking to fill their home oil tanks dreaded receiving the bill.

World Wide Conflict and How it Affects Pricing

The western world depends on oil imports from other countries. Unfortunately, some of those countries are at odds with the western world. Countries like Russia, Venezuela & some in the middle-east have a love/hate relationship with the United States. They hate the U.S. but love selling us oil.

It can be pondered as to what prices would be if the United States were on better terms with some or all of these countries. Would the price be affected? Would the price per barrel remain the same or would it be cheaper?

Current Pricing of Heating Oil in the Virginia Region

current heating oil price in virginia

As you can see from the chart provided by, the price hit an all-time high last year. It has eased some but many speculate if it will ease further or spike again. We are anticipating a return to 2012-13 prices and have hopes that it either levels off there or even drops significantly.

Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at Oil Price Information Service, recently had this to say: “I think we might find ourselves at the end of November with the wolf at the door”. These are not exactly encouraging words but nothing is written in stone. Our advice is to purchase your oil now in case Mr. Kloza is correct.


Friday 02 October, 2020

Fuel Oil vs Heating Oil

Heating Oil vs Fuel Oil

A barrel of oil in converted into many different types of fuels and oils.

Unless you are in the industry or have had both of these different types of heating systems, chances are that you do not know the difference between heating oil and fuel oil. This article aims to clear up any confusion that you may have on the subject.

The difference between fuel oil and heating oil is minimal. Heating oil typically produces a little more heat that fuel oil. The main difference between the two from a customer standpoint is that heating oil is more suited to be stored in an indoor tank whereas fuel oil should be stored in an outdoor tank.

Heating oil is heavier than fuel oil. It contains 139,000 BTUs whereas fuel oil contains 135,000 BTUs. Note: BTU is an acronym. It stands for British Thermal Unit. It’s a form of measurement that measures energy.

When a distillery processes a barrel of oil, it ends up being used for a myriad of fueling and lubricating means. It ends up as everything from jet fuel to petroleum jelly. As far as fuel is concerned, it is broken up into six categories that you can find below:

Name Alias Alias Type Chain length
Fuel Oil No. 1 Distillate No. 1 Diesel Fuel No.1 Distillate 9-16
Fuel Oil No. 2 Distillate No. 2 Diesel Fuel No. 2 Distillate 10-20
Fuel Oil No. 3 Distillate No. 3 Diesel Fuel No. 3 Distillate
Fuel Oil No. 4 Distillate No. 4 Diesel Fuel No. 4 Distillate/Residual 12-70
Fuel Oil No. 5 Residual Fuel Oil No. 5 Heavy fuel oil Residual 12-70
Fuel Oil No. 6 Residual Fuel Oil No. 1 Heavy fuel oil Residual 12-70

table source

Fuel Oil No. 1 – This is usually referred to as coal oil, stove oil and range oil.

Fuel Oil No. 2 – This is referred to as heating oil or bunker A.

Fuel Oil No. 3 – This fuel is for low-viscosity burning, but it is less frequently used since the mid-20th century.

Fuel Oil No. 4 – This is a commercial heating oil used for boilers/burners where pre-heaters are not installed.

Fuel Oil No. 5 – This is an industrial heating oil which needs preheating to 77-104°C. This fuel is referred to as bunker B.

Fuel Oil No. 6 – This is a residual oil which also needs preheating, however to 104-127 °C. This fuel is known as bunker C.

As you can see there are many levels to fuel oil. Your heating oil supplier can tell you exactly what you need. If you live in the Lynchburg, Madison Heights, or Appomattox area of Central Virginia, we can deliver your fuel oil. Please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 434-845-0971


Thursday 21 November, 2019

Interesting Facts About Heating Oil

oil refinery

Oil refinery

Heating and cooling are our specialty. We serve Lynchburg Virginia and surrounding areas. A major part of our business is providing heating oil for those households that require this type of fuel source. In this article we would like to share some facts about heating oil which the reader may not already know.


Heating oil comes from the same petroleum used for automobile oil and to make gasoline. The raw (or crude) oil is heated from between 250 to 350 degrees Celsius. The oil that condenses at this temperature is then used as heating oil.

By Any Other Name

Heating oil can be called by any other name but it is always heating oil. Some of these names are:

  • Gas Oil
  • Paraffin
  • Fuel Oil
  • Kersosene
  • 28 second heating oil

These nomenclatures aren’t always 100% accurate but they get the message across.

Best Time to Buy

Just like with any commodity, the best time to buy heating oil is when the use or demand is low. So, buying heating oil in the summer is when you are most likely to receive the best price and the service will be fast as well. Usually the price tends to be lower in summer months too.

Safety of Heating Oil

We have gone over the safety of heating oil in other articles. But, let us do so again because we cannot stress how safe heating oil actually is.

Heating oil only burns when done so in a special heating oil burning unit. Therefore, having a tank of heating oil in or around your house is very safe.

Supply and Demand

When refining a barrel of oil, a good portion of it results in heating oil. Every drop of each barrel of oil is used for a purpose. About 20% is used for gasoline and the rest is divided up between petrochemical and oil uses. There is plenty of supply to meet the demand of customers.


Friday 29 July, 2016

Know How to Keep Your Diesel Fuel Fresh

Refilling fuel view from inside of gas tank of a carDiesel fuel can be used for a lot of different things, but you do not have the same longevity with diesel fuel that you do with other types of fuel products. Typically, your diesel fuel is only going to remain useable for anywhere from six months up to a year. The lifespan goes down if you are not able to keep the diesel fuel dry and stored in a cool spot. If you want to be able to get the most out of your diesel fuel, then you need to learn how to keep it fresh for as long as possible. Here are some tips on doing just that.

Understanding the Problems with Diesel Fuel Helps You Keep It Longer
The moment that diesel fuel leaves the fuel refinery, it is already starting to degrade. That is why storing it properly is so important. The longer the diesel fuel exists beyond being refined, the more gunk you are liable to have floating around your fuel. If you have the opportunity to use your diesel fuel quickly, then that is the best option in terms of it being clear and safe. Thankfully, when most companies deliver diesel fuel, it already has the additives in it that are going to slow down this process, allowing your diesel fuel to last beyond approximately a month. Continue reading ‘Know How to Keep Your Diesel Fuel Fresh’ »


Sunday 10 July, 2016

Where does fuel oil come from?

Oil pumpYou probably don’t think much about the fuel oil you use during your day to day life. You don’t think about it until it becomes hard to get. We use fuel oil for many different areas of our daily lives. It’s used for power in our cars, heating our homes and powering appliances and machines. Have you ever wondered where all this oil is coming from?

Fuel oil is derived from fossil fuels. Fossil fuel, to put it bluntly, is the material left from the decomposition of living organisms. These living organisms have been buried deep in the earth for millions of years. The earliest oil wells were in China around 347 A.D. Oil pits were near Babylon around 4 thousand years ago and asphalt was made using the oil. Asphalt was used on the buildings of Babylon. Little by little, more uses for this oil were discovered. It was discovered that oil was flammable and a good source of heat for cooking and warmth. Whale oil was also used for this purpose.

The demand for fuel oil increased with the spread of oil lamps and the invention of the combustible engine. Not much thought was given to the amount of fossil fuel available for consumption until the energy crisis of the 1970’s when many people began to realize that fossil fuel was not an infinite source of energy. It was realized that there will come and end to the supply of fossil fuel. Different sources of energy needed to be found.

Fossil fuel is found almost in every country. Did you know the top 3 oil producing countries are Russia, the United States and Saudi Arabia? There are also fossil fuel reserves in Venezuela. The Middle East supplies about 80% of all readily available oil. 90% of all the fuel used in today’s vehicles is met with the use of oil. And 40% of all energy usage in the United States is petroleum.
Many different kinds of energy sources are being investigated to relieve the dependency on fossil fuel. Solar energy, energy from the wind, water generated power and electric powers are all viable options. In the meantime, manufacturers of cars and other engines that need fuel oil are working to become more energy efficient. Not only does this help stretch the fossil fuel reserves we have but cuts the costs to the consumer.


Monday 06 June, 2016

Are different fuel oils interchangeable?

Crude Oil Energy InvestmentOil is oil, right?  Wrong.  There is heating oil, kerosene, diesel gas and gasoline, which are all fuel oils.  Although all these fuels start out the same, they have different compositions once they have gone through the processing phase.  Have you ever wondered what would happen if you used the wrong fuel in your car or your furnace?

Let’s start with your car.  Perhaps you have a diesel engine in your car and you pull up to a pump.  For whatever reason, you grab the wrong nozzle and fill the car up with regular gasoline, put the nozzle back and drive away.  Now what happens depends on how much diesel fuel was left in the gas tank before you added regular gasoline.  If the ratio of gasoline to diesel was low, there might not be a noticeable difference.  But if the gasoline ratio is high, you probably won’t get very far.  The emissions system will start to malfunction.  The engine will run noisy and rough.  All that gasoline is damaging your diesel engine.  The best thing to do if you use the wrong fuel oil is to not even start the car.  Have it towed to a garage and have the tank drained.  It is almost impossible to put diesel fuel in a car with a regular gas engine.  The nozzle for a diesel engine is much too large for the gasoline filler neck opening.

What about using gasoline or kerosene in your fuel oil tank for your furnace?  Another big no, no.  Number 2 heating oil has been formulated to work with a furnace and the ignition point of the furnace.  Other mixtures of fuel oil will have varying ignition points.  The result can be a fire.  Gasoline and kerosene are faster burning fuels and the result can be disastrous.

Each type of fuel oil was designed with a specific use in mind.  Some engines need a cleaner fuel and some need a fuel that will also act as a lubricant, like a diesel fuel.  Any time a fuel oil is used inappropriately you will have a damaged engine and possibly a fire.  Most tanks where fuel oil is put in will have the correct type of fuel listed.  Diesel gas pumps do have a different color nozzle.  The handle is typically green.  And inside the gas tank door it tells you to use diesel fuel only.  Even with all these precautions, take care not to interchange your type of fuel oil.


Monday 23 May, 2016

Uses for Kerosene

Red kerosene lamp isolated on whiteKerosene is a fuel oil that is known by several different names including heating oil, boiler juice and paraffin. It is produced through the distilling of crude oil. There are two grades of kerosene which have different levels of Sulphur.  Kerosene is a clear, thin liquid typically used for lighting, heating, for powering aircraft of various types and in heating systems. Kerosene has been used for years and continues to be one of the most traditional sources of providing light and heat, originally in lanterns.  It is still used worldwide for cooking and providing entertainment.

It is estimated that in the United Kingdom, over 1.5 billion homes use kerosene to heat their homes. This is particularly due to its clean burning properties allowing it to maintain an increased level of heat, while being very economical to use as a primary source of heating.  One of the primary reasons for kerosene’s popularity is its availability. Continue reading ‘Uses for Kerosene’ »


Thursday 29 October, 2015

How Shale Oil Affects Heating Oil Prices

Heating Oil PricesThe price of a barrel of oil has become a thing of scrutiny ever since our attention was turned to the Middle East decades ago.  The need to be less dependent on foreign oil has caused innovators to find ways to better meet our own fuel demands.  As opposed to conventional oil, shale oil is capitalizing on technological advances in the way we harvest and process oil.  That is good news for the long foreseeable future and Heating Oil Prices.

What is Shale Oil?

Unlike rigs that drill for the bubbling crude, shale oil is a rock.  It is harvested and processed differently.  As you may have been able to deduce by lower gas prices this year, it is a more economically sustainable method.  As the price of a barrel of oil decreases, that price cut is noticed in all forms of refinery, including your heating oil.  And with the largest shale deposits in the world located in the central-west region of our nation, there is no shortage of supply.  According to most experts (even given the unpredictable volatile political climate), prices will continue to drop or remain stable with known deposits to sustain us for around 400 years.

How is Shale Oil Harvested?

It is commonly referred to as “the rock that burns”.  It takes an enormous amount of heat and pressure to keep oil in a liquid form.  It must be mined from the earth using a simple yet sophisticated system and then heated through a process called retorting.  There are other methods currently being looked into that would heat the shale before it is mined from the earth.   Once the shale oil is in liquid form, it can then go through the refining process just like all other oil that is drilled.

Shale 2.0

Our nation is on the cusp of revolutionizing the shale oil industry.  Technological advances and highly motivated entrepreneurs have not given up on the potential this black gold mine has.  The geo-political climate is being heated as the barrel tries not to drop too much.  But lowered fuel costs after being too high for too long will naturally take time to settle back into as the shock of $20/barrel wears off.

The surplus of oil in our nation right now is the highest it has been in many years.  This has allowed a surplus of new technology to develop and big data projects with extraordinary software that has left the market in an upheaval with many changes to come, including more affordable heating oil.


Thursday 15 October, 2015

Inspections for Oil Tank

ltankAn improperly working oil tank can cost you hundreds of wasted dollars.  Whether you are buying a new home or have an older pump that seems to be going through oil faster than it usually does, an inspection can tell a lot.  It is important to have your heating oil storage tank regularly maintained and inspected to ensure you will not only be getting what you pay for, but also to avoid costly repairs and lost oil.

Locating the Tank

It is important to determine if your home has an above ground storage tank (AST) or an underground storage tank (UST).  If you are purchasing a new or new-to-you home through a mortgage lender, they could deny your loan until proper inspection is completed.  They may deny it all together given the bad reputation of UST.  Even if your tank is above ground, it could still be leaking or have faulty parts.  Lynchburg is known for having some of the richest history in our nation and that means older establishments that need to be regularly maintained. Continue reading ‘Inspections for Oil Tank’ »


Monday 04 November, 2013

Petroleum Products

overall view of oil and gas installationAt Sterling Oil Company we offer a number of different petroleum products such as kerosene, fuel oil, and various levels of gasoline. You hear of these products quite often in daily life but do you really know what they are? Here is a quick look at each of the petroleum types carried by Sterling Oil.

Probably the most commonly known petroleum product is home heating oil otherwise known as #2 Fuel Oil. The number ‘2’ is actually a class of oil rated by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) classification system. It is delivered in a low viscosity liquid (meaning it is not too thick) state and is used widely throughout the United States at just under 7 million households.

Sterling Oil also carries ‘Low Sulfur (LS)’, a cleaner alternative to #2 Fuel Oil. LS is marketed as such because its sulfur content, is at the most, 15 parts per million.  To obtain this lower sulfur standard additional steps are taken during the refining process. It is a big step in the effort to lower emissions and become more environmentally friendly.

Kerosene is probably one of the more versatile petroleum products but is generally associated with lighting (such as kerosene lamps), cooking, and heating. Did you know it is also used as jet fuel and as an ingredient in insecticides? Like #2 Fuel Oil, kerosene has a low viscosity and is derived through the distilling of petroleum. It was the first to be extracted for large commercial purposes in the mid 1800’s.

In addition to all the products above, we also carry three grades of gasoline – regular, midgrade, and premium. The difference in the grade is based on the octane rating of the three. The higher the octane content, the higher the grade. Gasoline with a higher rating is less likely to self-ignite and will burn more evenly. When you are at the gas pump, the gasoline rating of 87, 89, or 91 (sometimes 93) correlates to their level of octane.

Various fuels have been distilled from petroleum for over 2000 years, first discovered by Arabian scientists. Petroleum products are, in short, very complex mixtures. In fact, there are many products we come across in our everyday lives that we do not realize are derived from petroleum, such as linoleum, perfumes, soap, and even vitamin capsules. Sterling Oil is proud of the petroleum products we carry and are proud to be serving the beautiful city of Lynchburg.

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