Oil prices heat up fears of costly winter heating season

Just a few weeks ago, it looked as though homeowners who heat their homes with oil would be getting off cheap this winter. After last year's record prices, the cost per gallon of home-heating oil had retrenched to much more reasonable levels in recent months, among the lowest seen in years. Analysts said a flood of oil in world markets and healthy stores of sweet crude in U.S. warehouses meant oil prices would be kept in check.

But with prices now expected to hit $80 a barrel and gush even higher, it looks as though dreams of a cheap winter heating season are slipping away.