Maine heating oil prices see 15-cent jump

Posted Feb. 28, 2011, at 5:12 p.m.
Last modified March 01, 2011, at 1:20 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Unrest in Libya is translating to higher heating oil prices for Mainers, who over the past week have seen the biggest spike in prices so far this winter.

Maine energy officials say the average cost of home heating oil climbed 15 cents to $3.52 per gallon.

John Kerry of the Governor’s Office of Energy Independence and Security says there is ample inventory of oil, but “analysts warn of potential supply disruptions if the situation in the Middle East continues or spreads.”

The heating oil sample ranged from a low of $3.34 in southwestern Maine to $3.73 in eastern Maine. The average for kerosene was $3.92 and propane was $2.95.

Maine gasoline prices rise 16.1 cents in past week

PORTLAND, Maine — A price-watching website says average retail gasoline prices in Maine have risen 16.1 cents per gallon in the past week to $3.38 per gallon.

MaineGasPrices.com says its survey of Sunday’s prices also shows consumers were paying 67.4 cents per gallon more than they were on the same day one year ago and 19.6 cents per gallon more than a month ago.

Sunday’s average price compares with the national average, which has increased 17 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.34.

New England shrimp season coming to early end

PORTLAND, Maine — The New England shrimp fishing season is coming to an early end for the second straight year.

The season officially ends at 11:59 p.m. Monday. Regulators decided last week that fishermen were catching too many of the small, sweet crustaceans to keep the season open until April 15, as originally scheduled.

Found in the cold waters of the Gulf of Maine, northern shrimp provide a winter fishery for hundreds of fishermen. Boats from Maine catch about 90 percent of the annual harvest with small numbers of boats from New Hampshire and Massachusetts catching the rest.

Lance Armstrong backs Calif. tobacco tax initiative

LOS ANGELES — Lance Armstrong is backing a new tax on tobacco in California that would fund research on cancer and tobacco-related illnesses.

The cycling champ and cancer survivor joined Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Monday to urge support for the California Cancer Research Act, which would increase taxes on cigarettes by $1 a pack to raise more than $500 million a year.

Voters could decide the tax as soon as June if Gov. Jerry Brown is granted a special election by legislators, a decision expected by March 11.

Otherwise, the initiative would land on the February 2012 ballot.

The act is backed by the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, American Heart Association and other advocacy groups.

Armstrong, who recently retired, is a seven-time Tour de France winner.

China’s holdings of US debt jump 30 percent

WASHINGTON — China, the biggest buyer of U.S. Treasury securities, owns a lot more than previously estimated.

In an annual revision of the figures, the Treasury Department said Monday that China’s holdings totaled $1.16 trillion at the end of December. That was an increase of 30 percent from an estimate the government made two weeks ago.

The government made the change to its monthly report based on more accurate information it obtains in an annual survey. That survey does a better job of determining the actual owners of Treasury securities.

From staff and wire reports

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