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Short-Term Energy Outlook

Release Date: August 7, 2018  |  Next Release Date: September 11, 2018  |  Full Report    |   Text Only   |   All Tables   |   All Figures
       Notice for August 2018 release

Petroleum Products

Gasoline prices: The front-month futures price of reformulated blendstock for oxygenate blending (RBOB, the petroleum component of gasoline used in many parts of the country) settled at $2.07 per gallon (gal) on August 2 (Figure 5), a decrease of 4 cents/gal from July 2. The RBOB–Brent crack spread (the difference between the price of RBOB and the price of Brent crude oil) rose by 5 cents/gal to settle at 32 cents/gal over the same period.

The RBOB–Brent crack spread rose in July as total motor gasoline inventories fell for five consecutive weeks through the week ending July 27. EIA estimates that total motor gasoline inventories fell by 9.0 million barrels from June to July, compared with the five-year (2013–17) average decline of 2.7 million barrels during the same period.

Figure 5: Historical RBOB front-month futures prices and crack spread

Ultra-low sulfur diesel prices: The ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) front-month futures price settled at $2.13/gal on August 2 (Figure 6), a decrease of 2 cents/gal from July 2. The ULSD–Brent crack spread (the difference between the price of ULSD and the price of Brent crude oil) rose by 7 cents/gal to settle at 38 cents/gal over the same period.

Distillate stocks rose for the second consecutive month, increasing by 6.4 million barrels (5%) from June to July. Despite this increase, distillate inventories continue to remain low for this time of year, which likely contributed to the increase in the crack spread. EIA forecasts that distillate stocks will be near or lower than the five-year low through December.

Figure 6: Historical ULSD front-month futures price and crack spread

U.S. Petroleum and Other Liquids
  2016201720182019
Crude Oil prices (dollars per barrel)
WTI Spot Average 43.3350.7966.2164.34
Brent Spot Average 43.7454.1571.7470.58
Imported Average 38.7048.9862.2160.68
Refiner Average Acquisition Cost 40.6950.6865.1263.33
Retail prices including taxes (dollars per gallon)
Regular Gasoline 2.152.422.762.76
Diesel Fuel 2.312.653.153.11
Heating Oil 2.102.512.973.05
Production (million barrels per day)
Crude Oil 8.849.3710.6811.70
Natural Gas Plant Liquids 3.513.744.334.73
Fuel Ethanol 1.001.031.041.04
Biodiesel 0.1020.1040.1300.144
Consumption (million barrels per day)
Motor Gasoline 9.329.329.319.38
Distillate Fuel Oil 3.883.944.114.15
Hydrocarbon Gas Liquids 2.542.602.903.04
Jet Fuel 1.611.681.711.75
Total Consumption 19.6919.8820.3520.64
Primary Assumptions (percent change from previous year)
U.S. Real GDP Growth 1.52.33.02.5
Heating Degree Days -5.1-1.211.0-1.5
Distillate-weighted Industrial Production 1.63.03.22.8

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