Heating Oil Prices

Fall Slowly in Mass.Home heating oil prices in Massachusetts are easing into the spring seasonal decline more slowly than usual as a state Energy Resources Office survey showed an average statewide price of 90 cents last week.

Tara McKenzie, an energy office spokeswoman, said the March 21 survey of 80 full service dealers around the state was off by only 1 cent a gallon since the February survey. During the 1987-88 winter season, she said, price fluctuations have been milder than usual, with a season-long average of 91 cents a gallon across the state except for a one-week surge to 92 cents in January.

Environmentalists Win

Fla. Offshore Oil Limit

KEY LARGO, Fla. - In a dramatic victory for Florida's environmentalists, state and federal officials said they have signed an unprecedented agreement to drop the Florida Keys from U.S. plans for offshore oil exploration.

The pact, signed by Gov. Bob Martinez and Interior Secretary Donald Hodel, represents the most extensive success ever scored by a state in limiting the offshore oil program, several officials said. It represents a reversal of Mr. Hodel's staunchly defended policy of opening more federal territory to the oil companies.

The pact will:

* Exclude the Florida Straits from the five-year plan, derailing a schedule that would have opened the keys for exploration bids in 1992.

* Exclude waters west of Naples and Everglades National Park from any drilling through 1993, as well as waters extending from the Dry Tortugas west for 60 miles, that would been offered for bidding this November.

* Allow gas exploration off Cape San Blas, but only after a year-long effort to improve emergency spill-response plans.

Some environmentalists criticized the agreement for not going far enough. Activists for Greenpeace and the Florida Public Interest Research Group said drilling would still be allowed too close to the keys, within 25 miles, under previous federal leases.