Short-Term Energy Outlook
- West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and other crude oil spot prices have risen about $15 per barrel since mid-February partly in response to the disruption of crude oil exports from Libya. Continuing unrest in Libya as well as other North African and Middle Eastern countries has led to the highest crude oil prices since 2008. As a result, EIA has raised its forecast for the average cost of crude oil to refiners to $105 per barrel in 2011, $14 higher than in the previous Outlook. However, EIA has raised its 2011 forecast for WTI by only $9 per barrel to $102 per barrel because of the projected continued price discount for this type of crude compared with other crudes. EIA projects a further small increase in crude oil prices in 2012, with the refiner acquisition cost for crude oil averaging $106 per barrel and WTI averaging $105 per barrel. EIA's forecast assumes U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP) grows 3.3 percent in 2011 and 2.8 percent in 2012, while world real GDP (weighted by oil consumption) grows by 3.8 percent and 3.7 percent in 2011 and 2012, respectively.
- EIA estimates that natural gas working inventories ended February 2011 at 1.7 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), slightly below the 2010 end-of-February level. Inventories are expected to remain relatively high through 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 $4.58 per MMBtu.
To see details of this forecast update, go to the following World Wide Web site on the Internet: