Power Plants Continue Binging Fuel Oil
Trend reported last issue continued through February
In last month’s cover story, Oil & Energy reported that 17.1 million gallons of fuel oil were consumed for power generation from January 11-17 (see “Once Again, Heating Oil Comes to the Rescue,” January/February 2022, page 24). This was a significant increase from January 4-10 when 5.42 million gallons of fuel oil were consumed and an even bigger increase from December 28-January 3 when 0.85 million gallons were consumed.
The trend that started in December and early January continued through early February, according to regional grid operator ISO New England’s 21-Day Energy Assessment reports.
From January 18-25, 18.29 million gallons of fuel oil were consumed for power generation, including 6.75 million gallons of distillate fuel oil and 11.53 million gallons of residual fuel oil. From January 26-31, 22.78 million gallons of fuel oil were consumed: 9.37 million gallons of distillate and 13.41 million gallons of residual. From February 1-8, 6.80 million gallons of fuel oil were consumed: 3.07 million gallons of distillate and 3.72 million gallons of residual.
All told, approximately 71.2 million gallons of fuel oil were consumed from December 28 through February 8. This includes over 34 million gallons of distillate fuel oil and more than 37 million gallons of residual fuel oil.
According to ISO New England’s Daily Generation by Fuel Type reports, fuel oil generated 65,802 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity on January 16, 2022 alone. Fuel oil’s daily power generation would top 60,000 MWh twice more over this period — on January 27 (64,170 MWh) and January 31 (61,682 MWh). Prior to 2022, the last time this happened was January 15, 2018.
Readers may recall that during January 2018, New England power plants used 84 million gallons of fuel oil over a two-week period.
On February 10, 2022, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) published an article titled “Oil-fired generators helped meet electric demand in New England this January.” According to EIA’s Annual Electric Generator Report, petroleum liquids primarily fuel nearly 4,000 MW of New England’s 35,000 MW generating capacity, and another 7,000 MW of power come from dual fuel plants that have the ability to switch from natural gas to petroleum liquids.