Bob Greenes, in white shirt, presents to Jack Sullivan, president of the New England Fuel Institute, the Robert Greenes Award for his work in the industry. Also pictured, from the left, are Larry Jordan, PMAA chairman; Bob Boltz of Vincent R. Boltz, who won the Greenes Award in 2003; and Dan Gilligan, president of the Petroleum Marketers Association of America. Photo by Dave Campbell
NEFI's Oilheat Visions 2006 attempts to create a blueprint for the future of the industry
Everything you needed to divine the future of oilheat and all of its uses, short of an actual crystal ball or fortune teller, was on hand in Providence, R.I., from Aug. 21-23 as the New England Fuel Institute hosted its biennial Oilheat Visions 2006 at the Rhode Island Convention Center. The event was a collaborative effort coordinated by NEFI with input from the National Oilheat Research Alliance, Petroleum Marketers Association of America, Brookhaven National Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Energy.
The fulcrum of the three-day event were the two days of end-to-end seminars and informational sessions on Aug. 22 and 23. The educational opportunities were divided into four platforms: Marketing & Profitability, Best practices, Challenges & Opportunities and the NORA/BNL Technology Symposium.
Before all of that learning could begin in earnest, however, NORA held its Board of Directors meeting, which was open to the public on Aug. 21, while the PMAA’s Heating Fuels Committee also conducted business that day. Time was also taken on Aug. 22 to honor NEFI’s own Jack Sullivan, the 2006 recipient of the Robert Greenes Award, the PMAA’s highest oilheat leadership award. Sullivan, NEFI’s executive vice president, received the award from Bob Greenes, for whom the honor is named.
“Because this award recognizes national leadership, it is an exceptionally fitting tribute to Jack Sullivan,” said PMAA President Dan Gilligan. “Jack is an esteemed national leader who has earned the respect of everyone in PMAA’s Heating Oil Division. When Jack talks, people listen.”
Oilheat Visions then officially opened with a two-hour General Session titled “The World Supply of Oil Is Changing: Will It Change Our Business?” To get everyone prepared for the educational opportunities, at hand, the session looked at how the distillate pool for heating oil is being affected by large market forces, such as trading of oil futures, international political turmoil and environmental regulations, including the newly enacted mandates for ultra-low-sulfur diesel.
Following that presentation, attendees were free to customize their schedules and attend any seminar they chose. Following is a look at some of the more noteworthy ones, arranged by their specific platforms:
Marketing & Profitability
- "Speaking With One Voice for Oilheat." Moderated by representatives of The Martin Agency, which created NORA's highly successful recent marketing campaign, this seminar pointed out the need for the oilheat industry to work together to bring a common message to the consumer about the values of oilheat,
- "The Value of Your Business: What's Going On?" Presented by Matthew Ide of Citizens Bank, this session provided insight into the current marketplace for both buyers and sellers of oilheat companies, as well as those looking to stay the course.
- "For Every Problem There is an Answer, Isn't There?" Bob Boltz and Don Allen spoke to attendees about the new equipment that is available and whether or not that new technology can solve some age-old problems.
- "The Bioheat Advantage: Marketing a New Fuel." Paul Nazzaro, a consultant to the National Biodiesel Board, and Michael Devine, provided insight into this hot-button topic as "bio" blends become more prevalent in the market, brining with them promises of cleaner-burning, more efficient heating fuel.
Taking time for a group shot in front of one of Dennis K. Burke’s “green” tanker trucks are, from left to right, Beatrice and Lambert Lucks of IWO, a German oilheat trade association, Fuel Oil News associate publisher Dave Campbell, Christian Kuechen of IWO, Klaus Lucka of OWI, a German oilheat research laboratory, Ed Burke of Dennis K. Burke, and Ray Albrecht of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
Photo by Adrienne Frongillo
- "Lessons Learned: It's Time to Apply Them." John Nardozzi of Gray, Gray & Gray, LLP, offered a roadmap on how to take the lessons learned from past seasons and apply them to the upcoming 2006-07 season.
- "Keeping Customers Quiet When Oil Prices Scream." Richard Goldberg of Warm Thoughts Communications offered proactive tips that oil dealers can use when customers question the price of their deliveries, including a look at making price-protection programs work for you.
- "It's Your Money, Why Not Keep It?" Larry and Tracy Richmond of COCARD presented ways to automate the receivables process that can save companies significant amounts of money.
- "'Oil Heat Cares,' Do You?" Judy Garber, executive director of the National Association of Oil Heating Service Managers, proved an update on the latest projects undertaken by Oil Heat Cares, the association's charity program that provides heating equipment to those less fortunate,
Challenges & Opportunities
- "Low Sulfur and Ultra-Low-Sulfur Distillate: The Environmental Advantages vs. the Supply & Pricing Chaos." With the deadline for ULSD implementation approaching, this seminar compared the benefits of using a cleaner-burning fuel with the challenges faced in supplying that fuel and how the price will be affected.
- "Vital Northeast Heating Oil Storage At Risk." Many marketers feel that there is currently not enough fuel-oil storage in the Northeast. This session offered a look at the storage situation, as well as the implications for supply, distribution and pricing.
- "NORA Update on Consumer Education, R&D, and Industry Technical Training." NORA President John Huber offered an update on the new projects underway in the areas of consumer education, research and development, and technical training. Huber also provided an update on the success of NORA's new "Intelligent Warmth" campaign.
- "Storage Tanks and the Insurance Industry." John Levey, NORA's consultant and trainer on oil-storage tanks, gave an update on NORA's efforts to provide better understanding and acceptance of oilheat by leading home insurers. Also provided was a report on improved tank technology and the maintenance of homeowners' tanks.
NEFI’s next major event will the North American Heating & Energy Expo, scheduled for June 12-13, 2007, at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. The expo, which is held concurrently with NEFI’s annual business conference, is oilheat’s largest and most diversified trade show for oilheat and allied industries, drawing more than 6,000 attendees. Call (617) 924-1000 or visit www.nefi.com for more information.
- "Emissions: Oil-Fired Residential Heating Systems." This session reviewed the fine particulate emissions of current and emerging residential heating equipment and fuels. It also offered a comparison of the FPEs emitted by traditional fuels with the new ultra-low sulfur and biofuel blends.
- "A Proposed New Specification for Home Heating Oil." Bob Tatnall of Fairville Products pointed out in this session that there are increasing complaints by fuel-oil dealers of "bad quality" fuel. But would a reduction to a 500-ppm sulfur level in fuel oil result in less reports of fouled fuel systems and clogged nozzles? A proposed new fuel specification could answer that question?
- "Oil-Condensing Boilers: New Construction for New Requirements." A new oil-fired, aluminum and stainless-steel condensing boiler promises weight reduction, low emission combustion, use of reduced sulfur heating oil or bio fuel and a low acoustic emission.
- "Standards for Burners to Use 5% Biodiesel Blends." The opportunity to use a 5-percent biodiesel blend are increasing because it offers a potential reduction in emissions and places a cleaner-burning face on oilheat. However, questions remain regarding bioheat's use with current burner design, such as combustion performance, compatibility with conventional burner and component materials, and storage and handling.
- "Technical Tools for Improving Delivery Efficiency." Tom Duffey of Kelley Energy reviewed the state of the industry's delivery technology and the relevant cost categories associated with its use. Using real oil companies in New England and the Mid-Atlantic states, he showed the advantages that can be found in using software to help ease route organization and optimization, data management, electronic meter register management and wireless solutions.