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Short-Term Energy Outlook

Release Date: May 11, 2021  |  Forecast Completed: May 6, 2021  |  Next Release Date: June 8, 2021  |  Full Report    |   Text Only   |   All Tables   |   All Figures

U.S. Liquid Fuels

  • The May Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) remains subject to heightened levels of uncertainty because responses to COVID-19 continue to evolve. Economic activity has increased significantly after reaching multiyear lows in the second quarter of 2020. The increase in economic activity and easing of COVID-19-related restrictions have contributed to rising energy use. U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) declined by 3.5% in 2020 from 2019 levels. This STEO assumes U.S. GDP will grow by 6.2% in 2021 and by 4.3% in 2022. The U.S. macroeconomic assumptions in this outlook are based on forecasts by IHS Markit. Our forecast assumes continuing economic growth and increasing mobility with easing COVID-19-related restrictions, and any developments that would cause deviations from these assumptions would likely cause energy consumption and prices to deviate from our forecast.
  • We completed modeling and analysis for this report before the temporary closure of the Colonial Pipeline on May 7 as a result of a cyberattack. Although effects of the outage are not reflected in this report, we are closely following supply and price developments related to the outage. Updates related to the outage will be reflected in Today in Energy, This Week in Petroleum, and the Weekly Petroleum Status Report as they become available.
  • Brent crude oil spot prices averaged $65 per barrel (b) in April, unchanged from the average in March. Brent prices were steady in April as market participants considered diverging trends in global COVID-19 cases. In some regions, notably the United States, oil demand is rising as both COVID-19 vaccination rates and economic activity increase. In other regions, notably India, oil demand is declining because of a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases. EIA forecasts that Brent prices will average $65/b in the second quarter of 2021, $61/b during the second half of 2021, and $61/b in 2022.
  • We expect that gasoline consumption in the United States will average almost 9.0 million b/d this summer (April–September), which is 1.2 million b/d more than last summer but almost 0.6 million b/d less than summer 2019. We increased our summer gasoline consumption forecast by 0.1 million b/d from last month based on weekly data that suggested more gasoline consumption than we had previously forecast. The increase also reflects IHS Markit’s increased employment forecast. For all of 2021, we forecast that U.S. gasoline consumption will average 8.7 million b/d, which is up from 2020 (8.0 million b/d) but down from 2019 (9.3 million b/d).
  • According to our most recent data, U.S. crude oil production averaged 9.9 million b/d in February 2021, which was down by 1.2 million b/d from January. In February, cold temperatures caused significant declines in crude oil production in Texas, as well as smaller declines in other states. We estimate that production outages were generally limited to February and that U.S. crude oil production rose to 10.9 million b/d in March and to almost 11.0 million b/d in April. Because the average price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil remains above $55/b in our forecast, we expect producers will drill and complete enough wells in the coming months to offset declines at existing wells. In addition, new projects in the Federal Offshore Gulf of Mexico contribute to rising production in the forecast. U.S. crude oil production in the forecast averages 11.3 million b/d in the fourth quarter of 2021 and then rises to average 11.8 million b/d in 2022.

U.S. liquid fuels product supplied growth

U.S. crude oil production

U.S. net imports of crude oil and liquid fuels

U.S. Hydrocarbon gas liquids product supplied growth

U.S. gasoline and crude oil prices

U.S. diesel fuel and crude oil prices

U.S. Petroleum and Other Liquids
  2019202020212022
Crude Oil prices (dollars per barrel)
WTI Spot Average 56.9939.1758.9156.99
Brent Spot Average 64.3441.6962.2660.74
Imported Average 57.9537.2656.9454.54
Refiner Average Acquisition Cost 59.3639.7557.9055.58
Retail prices including taxes (dollars per gallon)
Regular Gasoline 2.602.182.682.59
Diesel Fuel 3.062.552.972.92
Heating Oil 3.002.442.892.92
Production (million barrels per day)
Crude Oil 12.2511.3111.0211.84
Natural Gas Plant Liquids 4.825.165.215.66
Fuel Ethanol 1.030.910.960.99
Biodiesel 0.1120.1180.1200.130
Consumption (million barrels per day)
Motor Gasoline 9.318.038.708.92
Distillate Fuel Oil 4.103.784.054.19
Hydrocarbon Gas Liquids 3.143.203.313.60
Jet Fuel 1.741.081.361.67
Total Consumption 20.5418.1219.5120.53
Primary Assumptions (percent change from previous year)
U.S. Real GDP Growth 2.2-3.56.24.3
Heating Degree Days 0.6-9.35.50.4
Distillate-weighted Industrial Production -0.2-5.26.21.7

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Related Figures
West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil price XLSX PNG
U.S. gasoline and crude oil prices XLSX PNG
U.S. diesel fuel and crude oil prices XLSX PNG
U.S. crude oil production XLSX PNG
U.S. commercial crude oil stocks XLSX PNG
U.S. liquid fuels production growth XLSX PNG
U.S. liquid fuels product supplied growth XLSX PNG
U.S. gasoline and distillate inventories XLSX PNG
U.S. net trade of crude oil and liquid fuels XLSX PNG
U.S. natural gas plant liquids production XLSX PNG
U.S. hydrocarbon gas liquids consumption XLSX PNG
U.S. net trade of hydrocarbon gas liquids XLSX PNG
U.S. commercial propane inventories XLSX PNG
U.S. carbon dioxide emissions growth XLSX PNG
U.S. winter heating degree days XLSX PNG
U.S. census regions and census divisions XLSX PNG
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