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Staying warm could be a bit pricey this winter. Is anyone to blame?

In the blame game for this winter's anticipated high heating costs, some point a finger at Obama, and others the oil industry. But energy analysts say expected cold weather is the major culprit.

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It could cost a lot more than last year to stay warm.

If the weather forecasts of a colder, snowier winter come true, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) says homeowners who use heating oil – mainly people living in the Northeast – will end up paying $2,494 on average to heat their homes compared with $2,087 last year, up 19 percent. This winter’s expenditures would be a record.

Natural gas users, the largest proportion of homeowners, will pay about the same price as last year but will need to use more energy to keep the house warm. As a result they will spend $697 compared with $608 last year.

Who is to blame? The oil companies? The Obama administration?

“The main reason is the weather, we have very small changes in price,” says Tancred Lidderdale, an energy analyst at EIA in Washington. “Last winter we had record-setting warmth and this winter will return to normal, which means higher consumption.”

However, some other analysts say there is more than just the weather to blame.

US refiners are exporting a large amount of diesel to Europe and Latin America, says Sandar Cohan, a principal at Energy Security Analysis Inc. (ESAI) in Wakefield, Mass. Diesel and home heating oil are closely related from a refining perspective.


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