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Last Updated: January 10, 2018
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·         This edition of the Short-Term Energy Outlook is the first to include forecasts for 2019.

·         Benchmark North Sea Brent crude oil spot prices averaged $64 per barrel (b) in December, an almost $2/b increase from the November average and the highest monthly average since November 2014. 

·         Brent crude oil prices averaged $54/b in 2017 and are forecast to average $60/b in 2018 and $61/b in 2019. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil spot prices are forecast to average $4/b less than Brent prices in both 2018 and 2019. EIA’s forecast for the average WTI price for December 2018 of $58/b should be considered in the context of NYMEX contract values for December 2018 delivery. NYMEX contract values traded during the five-day period ending January 4 suggest that a range of $40/b to $85/b encompasses the market expectation for WTI prices in December 2018 at the 95% confidence level.

·         U.S. regular gasoline retail prices averaged $2.48 per gallon (gal) in December, down almost 9 cents/gal from the average in November but 22 cents/gal higher than at the same time last year. U.S. regular gasoline retail prices averaged $2.42/gal in 2017 and are forecast to average $2.57/gal in 2018 and $2.58/gal in 2019. 

·         U.S. crude oil production averaged an estimated 9.3 million barrels per day (b/d) in 2017 and is estimated to have averaged 9.9 million b/d in December. U.S. crude oil production is forecast to average 10.3 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. EIA forecasts production to increase to an average of 10.8 million b/d in 2019 and to surpass 11 million b/d in November 2019.

·         Dry natural gas production is forecast to average 80.4 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2018, a 6.9 Bcf/d increase from the 2017 level, which would be the highest year-over-year increase on record. Forecast dry natural gas production increases by an average of 2.6 Bcf/d in 2019. 

·         Henry Hub natural gas spot prices are forecast to average $2.88 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) in 2018 and $2.92/MMBtu in 2019, compared with the 2017 average of $2.99/MMBtu. EIA’s forecast for the average Henry Hub price for December 2018 of $3.04/MMBtu should be considered in the context of NYMEX contract values for December 2018 delivery. NYMEX contract values traded during the five-day period ending January 4 suggest that a range of $1.83/MMBtu to $4.89/MMBtu encompasses the market expectation for Henry Hub prices in December 2018 at the 95% confidence level.

·         Coal production increased by 45 million short tons (MMst) (6%) in 2017 in response to high demand for U.S. coal exports. Coal production is forecast to decline by 14 MMst (2%) in 2018 and by 18 MMst (2%) in 2019, as export demand is expected to slow and natural gas prices are expected to stay below $3/MMBtu during much of the forecast period, which contributes to less coal use for electricity generation.

·         EIA expects the share of U.S. total utility-scale electricity generation from natural gas to rise from 32% in 2017 to 33% in 2018 and to 34% in 2019, as a result of low natural gas prices. Coal's forecast generation share falls from 30% in 2017 to slightly lower than 30% in 2018 and 28% in 2019. The nuclear share of generation was 20% in 2017 and is forecast to average 20% in 2018 and 19% in 2019. Nonhydropower renewables provided almost 10% of electricity generation in 2017, and its 2018 share is expected be similar before increasing to almost 11% in 2019. The generation share of hydropower was more than 7% in 2017 and is forecast to be slightly lower than 7% in both 2018 and 2019.

·         After declining by 1.0% in 2017, energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are forecast to increase by 1.7% in 2018 and by 0.2% in 2019. Energy-related CO2 emissions are sensitive to changes in weather, economic growth, and energy prices.

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