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Short-Term Energy and Summer Fuels Outlook

Highlights

  • West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil spot prices averaged $89 per barrel in February and $106 per barrel in March.  The WTI price has continued to rise in recent days, reaching $111 on April 11.  Crude oil prices are currently at their highest level since 2008.  EIA expects oil markets to continue to tighten over the next two years given expected robust growth in world oil demand and slow growth in supply from non‐Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (non‐OPEC) countries.  These conditions result in an expected drawdown of global petroleum stocks and a call for increasing production from OPEC member countries, which will reduce surplus crude oil production capacity at a time when the disruption of crude oil exports from Libya and continuing unrest in other Middle East and North African (MENA) countries already highlight significant supply risks.   Projected WTI prices average $106 in 2011 and $114 per barrel in 2012, increases of $5 per barrel and $9 per barrel, respectively, from last month’s Outlook.

§ T  The rise in crude oil prices is reflected in higher petroleum product prices.  EIA projects that the retail price of regular-grade motor gasoline will average $3.86 per gallon during this summer’s driving season (the period between April 1 and September 30), up from $2.76 per gallon last summer.  EIA forecasts the annual average regular retail gasoline price will increase from $2.78 per gallon in 2010 to $3.70 per gallon in 2011 and to $3.80 per gallon in 2012.  Current market prices of futures and options contracts for gasoline suggest a 33-percent probability that the national monthly average retail price for regular gasoline could exceed $4.00 per gallon during July 2011.

  • Natural gas working inventories ended March 2011 at 1.6 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), slightly below the 2010 end-of-March level.  EIA expects that working gas inventories will remain relatively high throughout 2011.  The projected Henry Hub natural gas spot price averages $4.10 per million Btu (MMBtu) in 2011, $0.29 per MMBtu lower than the 2010 average.  EIA expects the natural gas market to begin to tighten in 2012, with the Henry Hub spot price increasing to an average of $4.55 per MMBtu.

To see details of this forecast update, go to the following World Wide Web site on the Internet:

http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/steo/pub/contents.html

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