EIA: Brent crude to average $40 in 2016; $50 in 2017

The average Brent crude oil price for 2016 is expected to be around $40 per barrel, U.S. Energy Information Administration has forecasted in its Short-Term Energy Outlook launched on January 12.

Also, this edition of the Short-Term Energy Outlook is the first to include forecasts for 2017, and according to EIA, the Brent crude price is expected to see some recovery in 2017, with $50 a barrel forecasted by EIA then.

North Sea Brent crude oil prices averaged $38/barrel (b) in December, a $6/b decrease from November, and the lowest monthly average price since June 2004. Brent crude oil prices averaged $52/b in 2015, down $47/b from the average in 2014, as growth in global liquids inventories put downward pressure on Brent prices throughout much of the year, EIA said.

EIA’s forecast for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices average $2/b lower than Brent in 2016 and $3/b lower in 2017.

The organization did say however, that the current values of futures and options contracts continue to suggest high uncertainty in the price outlook.

“For example, EIA’s forecast for the average WTI price in April 2016 of $37/b should be considered in the context of recent contract values for April 2016 delivery (Market Prices and Uncertainty Report) suggesting that the market expects WTI prices to range from $25/b to $56/b (at the 95% confidence interval),” EIA said.

Output-wise, U.S. crude oil production averaged an estimated 9.4 million barrels per day (b/d) in 2015, and it is forecast to average 8.7 million b/d in 2016 and 8.5 million b/d in 2017. EIA estimates that crude oil production in December fell 80,000 b/d from the November level.

Natural gas working inventories were 3,643 billion cubic feet (Bcf) on January 1, which was 17% higher than during the same week last year and 15% higher than the previous five-year average (2011-15) for that week. EIA forecasts that inventories will end the winter heating season (March 31) at 2,043 Bcf, which would be 38% above the level at the same time last year. Forecast Henry

Hub spot prices average $2.65/million British thermal units (MMBtu) in 2016 and $3.22/MMBtu in 2017, compared with an average of $2.63/MMBtu in 2015.

A decline in power generation from fossil fuels in the forecast period is offset by an increase from renewable sources. The share of generation from natural gas falls from 33% in 2015 to 31% in 2017, and coal falls from 34% to 33%.

For renewables, the forecast share of total generation supplied by hydropower rises from 6% in 2015 to 7% in 2017, and the forecast share for other renewables increases from 7% in 2015 to 9% in 2017, EIA concluded.

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