The Northeast’s new home heating oil reserve is unlikely to be put into action this year unless the war in the Middle East escalates to include oil-producing states, industry leaders said.
The reserve — made up of 2 million barrels in New Haven, Woodbridge, N.J., and Providence, R.I. — has not been used since it was set up last fall.
“If things stay the way they are, we won’t need it this season at all, but I will never try to crystal ball what’s going to happen with our foreign supply of oil,” said David Asselin, executive director of the Independent Connecticut Petroleum Association.
Prices also will depend on the weather, said Peter Beutel, president of Cameron Hanover, an energy risk management firm in New Canaan. So far this fall, demand has been down because of unseasonably warm temperatures.
President Clinton put the reserve in place by executive order last year, and the order was put into law this year.
The current Interior Department budget includes $8 million to maintain the reserve of two million barrels, about 84 million gallons.
One million barrels are in New Jersey, and 850,000 barrels are in New Haven. In August, the Department of Energy moved 150,000 barrels from New Haven to Providence, to create a third reserve nearer to Boston.
The reserve is meant to provide a temporary cushion if supplies become limited and prices rise. The Department of Energy said 2 million barrels would hold the Northeast for about 10 days.