‹ Analysis & Projections

Short-Term Energy Outlook

Release Date: October 11, 2017  |  Next Release Date: November 7, 2017  |  Full Report    |   Text Only   |   All Tables   |   All Figures


Forecast Highlights

Winter Fuels Outlook

  • EIA forecasts that average household expenditures for all major home heating fuels will rise this winter because of expected colder weather and higher energy costs. Average increases vary by fuel, with natural gas expenditures forecast to rise by 12%, home heating oil by 17%, electricity by 8%, and propane by 18%. Most of the increase reflects expected colder weather rather than higher energy costs. A warmer-than-forecast winter would see lower increases in expenditures, and a colder-than-forecast winter would see higher increases in expenditures (Winter Fuels Outlook).

Global liquid fuels

  • North Sea Brent crude oil spot prices averaged $56 per barrel (b) in September, an increase of $4/b from the average in August. EIA forecasts Brent spot prices to average $52/b in 2017 and $54/b in 2018, which is $1/b higher in 2017 and $2/b higher in 2018 compared with last month's forecast. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) average crude oil prices are forecast to be $3.50/b lower than Brent prices in 2018. NYMEX contract values for January 2018 delivery that traded during the five-day period ending October 5 suggest that a range of $40/b to $65/b encompasses the market expectation for January WTI prices at the 95% confidence level.
  • After reaching a two-year high of $2.69 per gallon (gal) on September 11, U.S. regular gasoline retail prices fell to an average of $2.57/gal as of October 2, as U.S. refinery capacity and gasoline production gradually came back online following Hurricane Harvey. EIA forecasts the U.S. regular gasoline retail price will average $2.49/gal in October and fall to an average of $2.33/gal in December.
  • U.S. crude oil production is estimated to have averaged 9.3 million barrels per day (b/d) in September, an increase of about 250,000 b/d from the August average. Crude oil production in the Gulf of Mexico is estimated to have increased to a monthly average of 1.7 million b/d in September, following Hurricane Harvey, an increase of 70,000 b/d from the August level. EIA forecasts total U.S. crude oil production to average 9.2 million b/d in 2017 and 9.9 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 in 1970.

Natural gas

  • U.S. dry natural gas production is forecast to average 73.6 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2017, a 0.8 Bcf/d increase from the 2016 level. Natural gas production in 2018 is forecast to be 4.9 Bcf/d higher than the 2017 level.
  • In September, the average Henry Hub natural gas spot price was $2.98 per million British thermal units (MMBtu), up 8 cents/MMBtu from the August level. Expected growth in natural gas exports and domestic natural gas consumption in 2018 contribute to the forecast Henry Hub natural gas spot price rising from an annual average of $3.03/MMBtu in 2017 to $3.19/MMBtu in 2018. NYMEX contract values for January 2018 delivery that traded during the five-day period ending October 5 suggest that a range of $2.28/MMBtu to $4.63/MMBtu encompasses the market expectation for January Henry Hub natural gas prices at the 95% confidence level.

Electricity, coal, renewables, and emissions

  • EIA expects the share of U.S. total utility-scale electricity generation from natural gas to fall from 34% in 2016 to about 31% in 2017 as a result of higher natural gas prices and increased electricity generation from renewables and coal. In 2018, natural gas's generation share is expected to rise to 32%. Coal's forecast generation share rises from 30% last year to 31% in 2017 and is expected to stay at that level in 2018.
  • U.S. coal production for September 2017 was an estimated 66 million short tons (MMst), up 1 MMst (1%) from September 2016. Coal production for the first nine months of 2017 was 591 MMst, 62 MMst (12%) higher than in the same period in 2016. Coal production is expected to increase by 8% in 2017 and by less than 1% in 2018.
  • Coal exports for the first seven months of 2017 totaled 51 MMst, which was 62% higher than in the same period of 2016. EIA expects growth in coal exports to slow, with exports for all of 2017 forecast at 75 MMst, 15 MMst (24%) higher than the 2016 level.
  • U.S. wind electricity generating capacity at the end of 2016 was 82 gigawatts (GW). EIA expects wind capacity additions to bring total wind capacity to 88 GW by the end of 2017 and to 96 GW by the end of 2018.
  • Total U.S. utility-scale solar electricity generating capacity at the end of 2016 was 22 GW. EIA expects solar capacity additions to bring total utility-scale solar capacity to 27 GW by the end of 2017 and to more than 30 GW by the end of 2018. Generation from small-scale solar (installations less than 1 megawatt) is expected to increase by 28% in 2017 and by 23% in 2018.
  • After declining by 1.7% in 2016, U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are projected to decrease by 0.6% in 2017 and then to increase by 2.2% in 2018. Energy-related CO2 emissions are affected by changes in weather, economic growth, and energy prices.
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 49.69 50.57
Brent Crude Oil
(dollars per barrel)
52.32 43.74 52.43 54.07
Gasolineb
(dollars per gallon)
2.43 2.15 2.39 2.41
Dieselc
(dollars per gallon)
2.71 2.31 2.64 2.79
Heating Oild
(dollars per gallon)
2.65 2.10 2.50 2.66
Natural Gasd
(dollars per thousand cubic feet)
10.36 10.04 11.10 10.99
Electricityd
(cents per kilowatthour)
12.65 12.55 12.96 13.31

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