HAZLE TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The winter heating season is fast approaching and that means planning and paying to heat our homes.

Home heating oil companies say they are concerned about rising prices and shrinking supplies. Those owners tell Eyewitness News that they are trying to get ahead of, what they describe as an, ‘unfolding crisis’ this winter.

“People are not going to be able to get heating oil this winter. Residents are not going to get heating oil,” stated Steve Passio, the CEO of Button Oil & Propane.

A dire warning from owners and representatives of home heating oil companies in Northeastern Pennsylvania. They met Wednesday near Hazleton to, in their words, “sound the alarm,” about rising oil prices and shrinking supplies.

“So we are delivering heating oil we can’t afford to buy, they can’t afford to pay for. That’s what’s happening every day right now. This isn’t what if? It’s now. If it goes up another buck or two, it freezes everything. Everything stops, everything stops,” explained Passio.

Local company owners say they currently pay about $5 a gallon for home heating oil. They sell it for around $5.60. That’s up from earlier this year when they were paying around $3 dollars a gallon.

They say they can’t make enough to meet their expenses to bring the oil to their customers.
They say their customers are having a difficult time paying for the oil.

Bill Gallagher owns Hazleton Standard Fuel. He and other company owners say they work with their customers. But say there is very little financial wiggle room.

“Right now our biggest problem is the terminals we get our fuel from are running out and that’s forcing us to go further and further from the Hazleton area. When you can run to Scranton and maybe get some oil, now we are running past Harrisburg. Our costs are up just to get the product here,” said Gallagher.

Gallagher says unless the federal or state government steps in to offer some type of assistance, it could mean the end of some businesses.

They are pushing for aid in the form of increased financial credit limits from financial institutions and finding additional sources of oil.

“We are having a hard time getting product and our accounts receivables are starting to stretch out, you know? It’s going to put a lot of small companies out of business,” Gallagher added.

These owners will be meeting Thursday with members of the Pennsylvania Petroleum Association in Harrisburg.

Eyewitness News reached out to the association as well as the Governor’s Office for comment about these concerns and we have not heard back.