Fuel Projection Report
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that U.S. crude oil production averaged 12.1 million barrels per day (b/d) in March, up 0.3 million b/d from the February average. The EIA forecasts that U.S. crude oil production will average 12.4 million b/d in 2019 and 13.1 million b/d in 2020, with most of the growth coming from the Permian region of Texas and New Mexico.
For the 2019 summer driving season that runs from April through September, the EIA forecasts that U.S. regular gasoline retail prices will average $2.76 per gallon (gal), down from an average of $2.85/gal last summer. The EIA’s forecast is discussed in its Summer Fuels Outlook. The lower forecast gasoline prices primarily reflect the EIA’s expectation of lower crude oil prices in 2019. For all of 2019, the EIA expects U.S. regular gasoline retail prices to average $2.60/gal and gasoline retail prices for all grades to average $2.71/gal, which would result in the average U.S. household spending about $100 (4%) less on motor fuel in 2019 compared with 2018.
Brent crude oil spot prices averaged $66 per barrel (b) in March, up $2/b from February 2019. Brent prices for the first quarter of 2019 averaged $63/b, which is $4/b lower than the same period in 2018. Despite lower crude oil prices than last year, Brent prices in March were $9/b higher than in December 2018, marking the largest December-to March price increase since December 2011 to March 2012. The EIA forecasts Brent spot prices will average $65/b in 2019 and $62/b in 2020, compared with an average of $71/b in 2018. The EIA expects that West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices will average $8/b lower than Brent prices in the first half of 2019 before the discount gradually falls to $4/b in late-2019 and through 2020.
Natural Gas Projection
The Henry Hub natural gas spot price averaged $2.95/million British thermal units (MMBtu) in March, up 26 cents/MMBtu from February. Prices increased as a result of colder-than-normal temperatures across much of the United States, which increased the use of natural gas for space heating. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects strong growth in U.S. natural gas production to put downward pressure on prices in 2019 and in 2020. The EIA expects Henry Hub natural gas spot prices will average $2.82/MMBtu in 2019, down 33 cents/MMBtu from 2018. The forecasted 2020 Henry Hub spot price is $2.77/MMBtu.
The EIA forecasts that dry natural gas production will average 91.0 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2019, up 7.6 Bcf/d from 2018. The EIA expects natural gas production will continue to grow in 2020 to an average of 92.5 Bcf/d. The EIA estimates that natural gas inventories ended March at 1.2 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), which would be 17% lower than levels from a year earlier and 30% lower than the five year (2014–18) average. The EIA forecasts that natural gas storage injections will outpace the previous five-year average during the April-through-October injection season and that inventories will reach 3.7 Tcf at the end of October, which would be 13% higher than October 2018 levels but 1% lower than the five-year average.