The U.S. Energy Information Administration released new short-term outlook figures Nov. 9, predicting some changes in prices and conditions in the energy market. The report projects that the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil will average about $83 per barrel this winter (October 1 to March 31), a $5.50-per-barrel increase over last winter and $3 per barrel more than in last month’s outlook. Other highlights of the report include:
- Projected WTI prices rise gradually to $87 per barrel by the fourth quarter of 2011 as U.S. and global economic conditions improve. EIA’s forecast assumes U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) grows by 2.6 percent in 2010 and 2.2 percent in 2011, while world real GDP weighted by oil consumption grows by 3.9 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively.
- EIA expects regular-grade motor gasoline retail prices to average $2.84 per gallon this winter, 19 cents per gallon higher than last winter. Retail diesel fuel prices are expected to average $3.09 per gallon this winter, an increase of 29 cents per gallon over last winter. In 2011, higher crude oil prices combined with strengthening refiner margins push annual average prices for motor gasoline and diesel fuel to $2.97 and $3.19 per gallon, respectively.
- Natural gas working inventories have reached more than 3.8 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), which is about the same as last year’s record-setting level for the underground storage quantity at the end of October. The projected Henry Hub natural gas spot price averages $4.35 per million Btu (MMBtu) for 2010, a $0.40?per?MMBtu increase over the 2009 average, but down $0.20 per MMBtu from the forecast in last month’s Outlook. EIA expects the Henry Hub spot price will average $4.31 per MMBtu in 2011, down $0.45 per MMBtu from last month’s Outlook.
- EIA projects average household expenditures for space-heating fuels will total $965 this winter, about the same as last year. EIA projects higher expenditures for heating oil and propane, but lower expenditures for natural gas and electricity. This forecast reflects higher prices for all the fuels, but milder weather than last winter in the South and Midwest contribute to lower fuel consumption in those areas.
- EIA projects U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuels, which declined by 7.0 percent in 2009, will increase by 3.5 percent in 2010. In 2011, projected CO2 emissions increase by a further 0.4 percent as the expected milder summer reduces electricity use. However, even with these increases, CO2 emissions remain below their level in any year from 1999 through 2008.
See details of this forecast update at: http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/steo/pub/contents.html