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Short-Term Energy Outlook

Release Date: September 12, 2017  |  Next Release Date: October 11, 2017  |  Full Report    |   Text Only   |   All Tables   |   All Figures

U.S. Liquid Fuels

  • Significant disruptions in the U.S. energy market have occurred in recent weeks as a result of Hurricane Harvey. At the time of publication, continuing uncertainty exists regarding the timeline for the return to normal operations for a broad range of upstream production, refining, pipeline, and terminal and distribution infrastructure. The severity and duration of these outages create additional uncertainty about the path of energy prices in the coming weeks and months. Although this STEO attempts to incorporate a baseline scenario for energy production, flows, and prices, actual outcomes could deviate significantly from this forecast. This month's forecast does not include any projected effects from Hurricane Irma, which made landfall in Florida on September 10. At the time of publication, it was too early to have meaningful information on the extent to which Hurricane Irma will cause disruptions to the U.S. energy system.
  • U.S. regular gasoline retail prices reached $2.69 per gallon (gal) on September 11, up 29 cents/gal from August 28 and the highest weekly average since August 2015. EIA forecasts the average U.S. regular gasoline retail price to be $2.61/gal in September and then fall to $2.40/gal in October, which are 25 cents/gal and 10 cents/gal higher, respectively, than projected in the August STEO. EIA forecasts the regular gasoline retail price to fall to $2.23/gal in December.
  • Refinery operations declined significantly following Hurricane Harvey. Based on EIA's Weekly Petroleum Status Report, U.S. gross refinery runs averaged 14.8 million barrels per day (b/d) the week ending September 1, down by 3.1 million b/d from the previous week. EIA forecasts refinery runs to average 15.3 million b/d in September, down from an estimated average of 17.1 million b/d in August. Refinery runs are forecast to increase to 15.9 million b/d in October.
  • EIA expects much of the reduction in refinery production of petroleum products to be offset by a decline in petroleum product net exports. EIA expects net petroleum product exports to average 1.1 million b/d in September, down from an average of 2.9 million b/d during the first eight months of 2017. A reduction in net exports can either come from a decrease in exports or an increase in imports. Additionally, the reduction in production of petroleum products could contribute to larger-than-typical inventory draws for September.
  • U.S. crude oil production is estimated to have averaged 9.2 million b/d in August, down about 40,000 b/d from the July average. Crude oil production in the Gulf of Mexico fell to a monthly average of 1.6 million b/d in August, down by 70,000 b/d from the July level. At the time of publication, many oil production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico had returned to operation, and EIA forecasts overall U.S. crude oil production will continue to grow in the coming months. EIA forecasts total U.S. crude oil production to average 9.3 million b/d for all of 2017 and 9.8 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.
  • North Sea Brent crude oil spot prices averaged $52 per barrel (b) in August. EIA forecasts Brent spot prices to average $51/b in 2017 and $52/b in 2018. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) average crude oil prices are forecast to be about $2/b lower than Brent prices in both 2017 and 2018. NYMEX contract values for December 2017 delivery that traded during the five-day period ending September 7 suggest that a range of $39/b to $63/b encompasses the market expectation for December WTI prices at the 95% confidence level.
U.S. Petroleum and Other Liquids
  2015 2016 2017 2018
Crude Oil prices (dollars per barrel)
WTI Spot Average 48.67 43.33 48.83 49.58
Brent Spot Average 52.32 43.74 51.07 51.58
Imported Average 46.34 38.69 45.66 46.02
Refiner Average Acquisition Cost 48.40 40.69 47.74 48.58
Retail prices including taxes (dollars per gallon)
Regular Gasoline 2.43 2.15 2.36 2.35
Diesel Fuel 2.71 2.31 2.61 2.72
Heating Oil 2.65 2.10 2.48 2.58
Production (million barrels per day)
Crude Oil 9.41 8.85 9.25 9.84
Natural Gas Plant Liquids 3.34 3.48 3.76 4.28
Fuel Ethanol 0.97 1.00 1.03 1.04
Biodiesel 0.082 0.101 0.105 0.109
Consumption (million barrels per day)
Motor Gasoline 9.18 9.33 9.33 9.37
Distillate Fuel Oil 4.00 3.88 3.99 4.07
Jet Fuel 1.55 1.61 1.66 1.68
Total Consumption 19.53 19.63 19.98 20.38
Primary Assumptions (percent change from previous year)
U.S. Real GDP Growth 2.9 1.5 2.1 2.6
Heating Degree Days -10.2 -5.1 0.7 7.5
Distillate-weighted Industrial Production -0.2 1.7 3.5 2.5

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