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Short-Term Energy and SUmmer Fuels Outlook

Release Date: April 11, 2017  |  Next Release Date: May 9, 2017  |  Full Report    |   Text Only   |   All Tables   |   All Figures

Forecast Highlights

Global liquid fuels

  • For the 2017 April-through-September summer driving season, U.S. regular gasoline retail prices are forecast to average $2.46/gallon (gal), compared with $2.23/gal last summer (see Summer Fuels Outlook). The higher forecast gasoline price is primarily the result of higher forecast crude oil prices. For all of 2017, the forecast average price for regular gasoline is $2.39/gal, which, if realized, would result in the average U.S. household spending about $200 more on motor fuel in 2017 compared with 2016.
  • U.S. crude oil production averaged an estimated 8.9 million barrels per day (b/d) in 2016. U.S crude oil production is forecast to average 9.2 million b/d in 2017 and 9.9 million b/d in 2018.
  • North Sea Brent crude oil spot prices averaged $52 per barrel (b) in March, $3/b lower than the February average. EIA forecasts Brent prices to average $54/b in 2017 and $57/b in 2018. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices are forecast to average $2/b less than Brent prices in both 2017 and 2018.
  • NYMEX contract values for July 2017 delivery traded during the five-day period ending April 6 suggest that a range of $41/b to $66/b encompasses the market expectation for WTI prices in July 2017 at the 95% confidence level.

Natural gas

  • U.S. dry natural gas production is forecast to average 73.1 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2017, a 0.8 Bcf/d increase from the 2016 level. This increase reverses a 2016 production decline, which was the first annual decline since 2005. Natural gas production in 2018 is forecast to be 4.0 Bcf/d above the 2017 level.
  • In March, the average Henry Hub natural gas spot price was $2.88 per million British thermal units (MMBtu), 3 cents/MMBtu above the February level. Prices increased as temperatures in March returned to more seasonally typical levels after being significantly warmer than normal in February.
  • New natural gas export capabilities and growing domestic natural gas consumption contribute to the forecast Henry Hub natural gas spot price rising from an average of $3.10/MMBtu in 2017 to $3.45/MMBtu in 2018. NYMEX contract values for July 2017 delivery traded during the five-day period ending April 6 suggest that a range of $2.49/MMBtu to $4.59/MMBtu encompasses the market expectation for Henry Hub natural gas prices in July 2017 at the 95% confidence level.

Electricity, coal, renewables, and emissions

  • Total U.S. electricity generation from utility-scale plants averaged 11,140 gigawatthours per day in 2016. Forecast generation declines by 0.7% in 2017 and then grows by 1.7% in 2018.
  • EIA expects the share of U.S. total utility-scale electricity generation from natural gas to fall from an average of 34% in 2016 to 32% in both 2017 and 2018 as a result of higher expected natural gas prices. Coal's forecast generation share rises from 30% in 2016 to 31% in both 2017 and 2018. Nonhydropower renewables are forecast to provide 9% of electricity generation in 2017 and nearly 10% in 2018. The generation share of hydropower is forecast to be relatively unchanged at 7% between 2016 and 2018, and the nuclear share of generation declines from about 20% in 2016 and 2017 to 19% in 2018.
  • EIA expects growth in coal-fired electricity generation, primarily a result of higher natural gas prices, to contribute to a 4% increase in coal production in 2017 and an additional 2% increase in 2018. EIA estimates the delivered coal price averaged $2.11/MMBtu in 2016, a 5% decline from the 2015 price. Coal prices are forecast to increase in 2017 and 2018 to $2.17/MMBtu and $2.22/MMBtu, respectively.
  • Wind energy capacity at the end of 2016 was 81 gigawatts (GW). EIA expects capacity additions in the forecast will bring total wind capacity to 95 GW by the end of 2018.
  • Total utility-scale solar generation capacity is forecast to increase by 44% from 21 GW at the end of 2016 to 31 GW at the end of 2018. With that growth, solar is forecast to account for more than 1% of total utility-scale electricity generation in 2018.
  • After declining by 1.7% in 2016, energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are projected to decrease by 0.5% in 2017 and then increase by 2.2% in 2018. Energy-related CO2 emissions are sensitive to changes in weather, economic growth, and energy prices.


What's New in STEO

2017 Summer Fuels Outlook
April 2017

More What's New ›

Price Summary
  2015 2016 2017 2018
a West Texas Intermediate.
b Average regular pump price.
c On-highway retail.
d U.S. Residential average.
WTI Crude Oila
(dollars per barrel)
48.67 43.33 52.24 55.10
Brent Crude Oil
(dollars per barrel)
52.32 43.74 54.23 57.10
(dollars per gallon)
2.43 2.15 2.39 2.44
(dollars per gallon)
2.71 2.31 2.69 2.85
Heating Oild
(dollars per gallon)
2.65 2.10 2.59 2.75
Natural Gasd
(dollars per thousand cubic feet)
10.36 10.05 10.86 11.09
(cents per kilowatthour)
12.65 12.55 12.87 13.18

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