This classification covers companies primarily retailing fuel oil. Companies that primarily sell fuel oil burners are in SIC 5074: Plumbing and Heating Equipment and Supplies (Hydronics); those that install and service fuel oil burners are in SIC 1711: Plumbing, Heating and Air-Conditioning; and those that repair and service fuel oil burners are in SIC 7699: Repair Shops and Related Services, Not Elsewhere Classified.
Heating Oil Dealers
By the mid-2000s, heating oil companies across the country were consolidating in what Fuel Oil News called an "acquisition derby." In 2004, many were offered for sale due to financial reasons, whether because of instability or the relatively high asking prices allowed, but many others were closing due to personal reasons such as aging employees.
Dun and Bradstreet listed 8,391 establishments doing business under this industrial classification in 1997. Companies in this industry sell motor oil for vehicles and fuel oil for heating buildings, with the largest earnings coming from heating oil sales. Residential customers are the primary consumers of heating oil. In 1999 the U.S. Department of Energy reported that 16 million American homes use a total of 11 billion gallons of heating oil each year, which represents 700 gallons per household. Schools, hospitals, businesses, and industry account for the bulk of non-residential heating oil sales. Similar figures for motor oil consumption are not updated regularly. Retail sales of motor oil in the U.S. reached $4.2 billion in 1995, the last year statistics were available.
Industry sales of heating oil vary with the season and geographic market. Demand is normally higher in northern states during the winter, causing oil prices to rise. But price is also affected by regional climatic changes. Nearly the entire continental United States experienced a series of mild winters in the late 1990s. In the fairly typical winter of 1996 the average price of heating oil reached $1.14 per gallon. But two unseasonably warm winters caused a 34-cent per gallon dip in price. By February 1999 heating oil prices had fallen to 66 cents per gallon. Nine months later heating oil distributors were bolstered by forecasts of a bitterly cold winter for the northern states. Industry experts predicted that the average price of heating oil in winter by the turn of the century might hit $1.06 per gallon.
Fuel oil dealers...