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Short-Term Energy Outlook

Release Date: January 9, 2018  |  Next Release Date: February 6, 2018  |  Full Report    |   Text Only   |   All Tables   |   All Figures


Forecast Highlights

  • This edition of the Short-Term Energy Outlook is the first to include forecasts for 2019.
  • Benchmark North Sea Brent crude oil spot prices averaged $64 per barrel (b) in December, an almost $2/b increase from the November average and the highest monthly average since November 2014.
  • Brent crude oil prices averaged $54/b in 2017 and are forecast to average $60/b in 2018 and $61/b in 2019. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil spot prices are forecast to average $4/b less than Brent prices in both 2018 and 2019. EIA’s forecast for the average WTI price for December 2018 of $58/b should be considered in the context of NYMEX contract values for December 2018 delivery. NYMEX contract values traded during the five-day period ending January 4 suggest that a range of $40/b to $85/b encompasses the market expectation for WTI prices in December 2018 at the 95% confidence level.
  • U.S. regular gasoline retail prices averaged $2.48 per gallon (gal) in December, down almost 9 cents/gal from the average in November but 22 cents/gal higher than at the same time last year. U.S. regular gasoline retail prices averaged $2.42/gal in 2017 and are forecast to average $2.57/gal in 2018 and $2.58/gal in 2019.
  • U.S. crude oil production averaged an estimated 9.3 million barrels per day (b/d) in 2017 and is estimated to have averaged 9.9 million b/d in December. U.S. crude oil production is forecast to average 10.3 million b/d in 2018, which would mark the highest annual average production in U.S. history, surpassing the previous record of 9.6 million b/d set in 1970. EIA forecasts production to increase to an average of 10.8 million b/d in 2019 and to surpass 11 million b/d in November 2019.
  • Dry natural gas production is forecast to average 80.4 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2018, a 6.9 Bcf/d increase from the 2017 level, which would be the highest year-over-year increase on record. Forecast dry natural gas production increases by an average of 2.6 Bcf/d in 2019.
  • Henry Hub natural gas spot prices are forecast to average $2.88 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) in 2018 and $2.92/MMBtu in 2019, compared with the 2017 average of $2.99/MMBtu. EIA’s forecast for the average Henry Hub price for December 2018 of $3.04/MMBtu should be considered in the context of NYMEX contract values for December 2018 delivery. NYMEX contract values traded during the five-day period ending January 4 suggest that a range of $1.83/MMBtu to $4.89/MMBtu encompasses the market expectation for Henry Hub prices in December 2018 at the 95% confidence level.
  • Coal production increased by 45 million short tons (MMst) (6%) in 2017 in response to high demand for U.S. coal exports. Coal production is forecast to decline by 14 MMst (2%) in 2018 and by 18 MMst (2%) in 2019, as export demand is expected to slow and natural gas prices are expected to stay below $3/MMBtu during much of the forecast period, which contributes to less coal use for electricity generation.
  • EIA expects the share of U.S. total utility-scale electricity generation from natural gas to rise from 32% in 2017 to 33% in 2018 and to 34% in 2019, as a result of low natural gas prices. Coal's forecast generation share falls from 30% in 2017 to slightly lower than 30% in 2018 and 28% in 2019. The nuclear share of generation was 20% in 2017 and is forecast to average 20% in 2018 and 19% in 2019. Nonhydropower renewables provided almost 10% of electricity generation in 2017, and its 2018 share is expected be similar before increasing to almost 11% in 2019. The generation share of hydropower was more than 7% in 2017 and is forecast to be slightly lower than 7% in both 2018 and 2019.
  • After declining by 1.0% in 2017, energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are forecast to increase by 1.7% in 2018 and by 0.2% in 2019. Energy-related CO2 emissions are sensitive to changes in weather, economic growth, and energy prices.
Price Summary
  2016201720182019
aWest Texas Intermediate.
bAverage regular pump price.
cOn-highway retail.
dU.S. Residential average.
WTI Crude Oila
(dollars per barrel)
43.3350.7955.3357.43
Brent Crude Oil
(dollars per barrel)
43.7454.1559.7461.43
Gasolineb
(dollars per gallon)
2.152.422.572.58
Dieselc
(dollars per gallon)
2.312.652.953.01
Heating Oild
(dollars per gallon)
2.102.542.842.84
Natural Gasd
(dollars per thousand cubic feet)
10.0411.1210.7010.77
Electricityd
(cents per kilowatthour)
12.5512.9213.2213.58

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