(Newsroom America) -- The Energy Information Administration (EIA) has lowered its average regular gasoline retail price forecast for the 2012 April-through-September summer driving season to $3.60 per gallon from $3.79 per gallon in last month’s Outlook.
EIA said in its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook issued today that it expects regular gasoline retail prices, which averaged $3.53 per gallon in 2011, to average $3.56 per gallon in 2012 and $3.51 per gallon in 2013.
West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil spot prices averaged more than $100 per barrel over the first 4 months of 2012. The WTI spot price then fell from $106 per barrel on May 1 to $83 per barrel on June 1, reflecting market concerns about world economic and oil demand growth.
EIA projects the price of WTI crude oil to average about $95 per barrel over the second half of 2012 and the U.S. refiner acquisition cost of crude (RAC) to average $100 per barrel, both almost $11 per barrel lower than last month’s Outlook.
EIA also expects crude oil prices to remain relatively flat in 2013.
It said this forecast rests on the assumption that U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP) grows by 2.2 percent this year and 2.4 percent next year, while world oil‐consumption‐weighted real GDP grows by 3.1 and 3.5 percent in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
"The recent economic and financial news that points towards weaker economic outlooks could lead to lower economic growth forecasts and further downward revisions to EIA’s crude oil price forecasts."
EIA expects U.S. total crude oil production to average 6.3 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2012, an increase of 0.6 million bbl/d from last year, and the highest level of production since 1998. Projected U.S domestic crude oil production increases to 6.7 million bbl/d in 2013.
Natural gas working inventories ended May 2012 at an estimated 2.9 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), about 31 percent above the same time last year. EIA’s average 2012 Henry Hub natural gas spot price forecast is $2.55 per million British thermal units (MMBtu), which is $0.10 per MMBtu higher than last month’s Outlook. EIA expects that Henry Hub spot prices will average $3.23 per MMBtu in 2013.
Based on the outlook from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for the current Atlantic hurricane season, EIA estimates median outcomes for total shut‐in production in the Federal Gulf of Mexico (GOM) during the upcoming hurricane season (June through November) of about 4.5 million barrels of crude oil and 9.5 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of natural gas.
"Actual shut‐ins are likely to differ significantly from this estimate depending on the number, track, and strength of hurricanes as the season progresses."