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Looking Ahead

Who can see into the future? The question comes up in our cover story this month, the “Heating Season Fuels Outlook.” Palm readers and others of that ilk might claim to be able to see what’s ahead. The experts we interviewed made a point of declaring that they make no such claims. But they are seasoned professionals with collective decades of experience analyzing, studying and/or trading in the markets. They’ve seen what has happened and they know it is wise to think about what might happen and be prepared, as best they can. It’s in this spirit that they offer their thoughts on how the 2016-2017 season might play out. An added bonus: David P. Daoust, managing director of Sprague Energy, and Shaun Kennedy, Sprague’s natural gas supply manager, share their thoughts in an extra section of the Outlook article that you can find posted on our website, FuelOilNews.com.

It seems likely that some of you would share the same hope that a Rhode Island fuel oil dealer shared with Charlie Bursey, in his column (pg. 50) in this issue, headlined “Hoping for Cold.” The dealer, Charlie reports, hopes for a return to winter temperatures “in the 5,000-degree day range.”

The words “cold winter” make us think of another article in these pages, “COHA Wants Data.” It is an update on some of the issues that the Canadian Oil Heat Association is dealing with. Sometimes it is instructive to see how others deal with similar challenges. We get a new perspective, maybe learn about a different approach to solving a problem.

Stephen Koch, COHA’s president, talked to us about the critical task of collecting accurate data on leaks and spills and the need to deal with them promptly.

The association’s goal is to establish a central source of data from which information can be extracted. “The complexity of the issue is that no province does it the same right now,” Koch said. Another challenge Koch cited: In some instances an insurance company is affiliated with, or is the parent company of, the company that does remediation work on a leak or spill. “We think that needs to be abolished immediately,” Koch said.

There has been progress on some fronts, Koch reported. Data from the Insurance Bureau of Canada show that since a requirement for double-bottom tanks was introduced in the Atlantic provinces there has been a dramatic decrease in the number and severity of spills.

Finally, readers might notice a name (mine) that is new to this page. I became the editor of Fuel Oil News on Sept. 1. For several years, under my predecessor, Keith Reid, I covered various aspects of the industry and contributed articles to the magazine. So, I am new to this page, but not new to these pages. Thanks to that experience and to Keith’s tutelage, I have a little bit of knowledge about the industry. But maybe you know that saying—about a little bit of knowledge being dangerous. I hope readers will share their thoughts and expertise so that I can become more knowledgeable, as Fuel Oil News continues its run of more than eight decades serving the industry.

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