Release Date: April 10, 2018
- For the 2018 April–September summer driving season, EIA forecasts U.S. regular gasoline retail prices to average $2.74/gallon (gal), up from an average of $2.41/gal last summer (see Summer Fuels Outlook). The higher forecast gasoline prices are primarily the result of higher forecast crude oil prices. For all of 2018, EIA expects U.S. regular gasoline retail prices to average $2.64/gal and gasoline retail prices for all grades to average $2.76/gal, which would result in the average U.S. household spending about $190 (9%) more on motor fuel in 2018 compared with 2017.
- Brent crude oil spot prices averaged $66 per barrel (b) in March. EIA forecasts Brent spot prices will average about $63/b in both 2018 and 2019. EIA expects West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices to average $4/b lower than Brent prices in both 2018 and 2019. NYMEX WTI futures and options contract values for July 2018 delivery that traded during the five-day period ending April 5, 2018, suggest a range of $52/b to $78/b encompasses the market expectation for July 2018 WTI prices at the 95% confidence level.
- EIA estimates that U.S. crude oil production averaged 10.4 million barrels per day (b/d) in March, up 260,000 b/d from the February level. Total U.S. crude oil production averaged 9.3 million b/d in 2017. EIA projects that U.S. crude oil production will average 10.7 million b/d in 2018, which would mark the highest annual average U.S. crude oil production level, surpassing the previous record of 9.6 million b/d set in 1970. EIA forecasts that 2019 crude oil production will again increase, averaging 11.4 million b/d.
- U.S. dry natural gas production averaged 73.6 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2017. EIA forecasts dry natural gas production will average 81.1 Bcf/d in 2018, establishing a new record. EIA expects natural gas production will rise by 1.7 Bcf/d in 2019.
- Growing U.S. natural gas production is expected to support both growing domestic consumption and increasing natural gas exports in the forecast. EIA forecasts U.S. consumption of natural gas to increase by 4.2 Bcf/d (5.7%) in 2018 and by 0.7 Bcf/d (0.9%) in 2019, with electric power generation the leading contributor to this increase. EIA also expects net natural gas exports to increase from 0.4 Bcf/d in 2017 to an annual average of 2.2 Bcf/d in 2018 and 4.4 Bcf/d in 2019.
- EIA estimates that natural gas inventories ended March (typically considered the end of the winter heating season) at almost 1.4 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), which was 19% lower than the previous five-year average. Based on a forecast of rising production, EIA forecasts that natural gas inventories will increase by more than the five-year average rate of growth during the injection season (April–October) to reach almost 3.8 Tcf on October 31, which would be 2% lower than the previous five-year average.
- EIA expects Henry Hub natural gas spot prices to average $2.99/million British Thermal units (MMBtu) in 2018 and $3.07/MMBtu in 2019. The average NYMEX futures and options contract values for July 2018 delivery that traded during the five-day period ending April 5, 2018, suggest that a range of $2.30/MMBtu to $3.43/MMBtu encompasses the market expectation for July Henry Hub natural gas prices at the 95% confidence level.