A home heating oil company displays its price in Portland on Tuesday, March 8, 2022. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Heating oil prices are rising along with gas prices, with the cost of residential oil in Maine jumping up 87 cents per gallon on average in the past week.

The price on March 7 reached $4.73 per gallon, up about 22 percent but remaining the lowest in New England, according to Gov. Janet Mills’ energy office. Heating oil prices topped $5 per gallon in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Vermont, according to federal data. One year ago, Maine’s per-gallon heating oil price was $2.14.

Prices in Maine have been on the rise since the beginning of this year because of worldwide oil supply fluctuations and seasonal factors, but they started turning up more sharply since Russia threatened to invade Ukraine in mid-January and made good on the threat late last month.

President Joe Biden warned yesterday that oil prices could go up further in light of his U.S. ban on Russian oil, gas and coal imports, including at the gas pump. The ban was called for by members of Maine’s congressional delegation despite the likelihood of oil and gas prices jumping in the state most dependent on home heating oil. More than 60 percent of homes in Maine rely on fuel oil compared to roughly 4 percent nationally.

The price of $3.44 per gallon on Jan. 24 was up 42 cents in a month to $3.86 on Feb. 28. It was up more than double that in the week until March 7. Prices now range from $4.19 to $5.10 per gallon across the state, with the highest prices in the southeast and greater Portland areas and the lowest in Down East and northern Maine.

Maine’s price is still below the U.S average of $4.92, which was also up 87 cents per gallon over the previous week, according to federal data.

Rising prices have prompted a late-season surge in low-income Mainers seeking heat assistance. In response, MaineHousing on Wednesday increased emergency fuel benefits for eligible households from $600 to $1,400.

Residential propane was up 18 cents per gallon to $3.61 on March 7 compared to the previous week, also the lowest price in New England. Connecticut was the highest at $4.18 per gallon.

Maine’s price was higher than the U.S. average price per gallon, which rose almost 11 cents to $2.99.

Lori Valigra, senior reporter for economy and business, holds an M.S. in journalism from Boston University. She was a Knight journalism fellow at M.I.T. and has extensive international reporting experience...