How Does Heating Oil Get to Your South Carolina Home?

Date: March 19, 2024

The Journey Begins with Crude Oil Refinement

heating oil south carolina The journey of heating oil from your local South Carolina fuel supplier to your home heating oil tank is the last step in the process. The journey really begins with heating oil being refined from crude oil. The refining process separates crude oil into different fractions.

The lighter fractions eventually become propane, butane and petrochemicals while heavier fractions are used to produce gasoline, kerosene, jet fuel, diesel fuel and No. 2 home heating oil. But it doesn’t end there. Heavier fractions become No. 4 or No. 6 heating oils, which are commonly used for commercial and industrial buildings, schools and hospitals.

After refining, No. 2 heating oil resembles the color of champagne. However, for tax purposes, regulations require that heating fuel be dyed red before it is sold so it cannot be confused with on-road diesel fuel, which is subject to tax. The dye has no effect on the fuel and how it burns.

After it is refined and ready for use, heating oil is transported via ship, barge, truck, and/or pipeline to major fuel terminals. It is distributed from the terminals to local heating oil companies. Many of these companies have their own storage facilities, which can hold thousands of gallons of heating oil. These company storage facilities ensure that an adequate supply of fuel is on hand during the cold months for people who keep their homes warm with heating oil.

Big Improvements to Heating Oil

In recent years, there have been significant improvements in oil heat’s efficiency and cleanliness, thanks in large part to vast reductions in the sulfur content of heating oil. Here is why this is important.

  • Ultra-low-sulfur heating oil (ULSHO) has 99% less sulfur in it than the “old” heating oil.
  • The changeover to ULSHO results in a reduction in emissions of over 70%, compared with the emissions produced by heating oil from the past.
  • A buildup of sulfur in the heating system can lead to system maintenance issues. The drastic reduction of sulfur means that there will be far fewer system issues, which will result in lower maintenance costs for heating oil consumers.
  • Because there is virtually no sulfur in the heating system now thanks to ULSHO, heating oil systems can burn the fuel more efficiently, leading to lower heating bills.
  • ULSHO opens the door for the introduction of super-efficient heating systems, which are already being used with great results in other countries that already use ULSHO.

Another Game Changer: Bioheat® Fuel

In much of the country, including in South Carolina, heating oil has been reformulated with Bioheat fuel, which consists of ultra-low sulfur heating oil that’s blended with renewable biofuel, also known as biodiesel. These Bioheat fuel blends represent the future of heating oil.

The most refined grade of heating oil available, Bioheat fuel is one of the cleanest burning heating sources for your home. It reduces greenhouse gas emissions significantly and no changes to your existing heating oil system are necessary to start using Bioheat fuel.

It’s estimated that widespread regional use of Bioheat fuel already prevents more than 1.5 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions from polluting the atmosphere every year. Those emissions will shrink even further as the ratio of biodiesel blends gets higher in the years ahead.

That time will arrive sooner than you may think. It was recently announced that production of fully warrantied oil burners with B100-compliant components has now become a reality.

The overall goal is to transition to even higher levels of Bioheat fuel, which will further reduce our carbon footprint and turn heating oil into a carbon-neutral energy source.

Bioheat fuel’s already low carbon emissions are considered recycled carbon since that carbon becomes fully absorbed by the plant materials contained in biodiesel. Because of the increasing availability of Bioheat fuel, the energy outlook has never been brighter for South Carolina residents who heat their home with oil!