The US Short-Term Energy Outlook noted yesterday that for the 2018 April–September summer driving season, the US regular gasoline retail prices are expected 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 US 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 US 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 US crude oil production averaged 10.4 million barrels per day (b/d) in March, up 260,000 b/d from the February level. Total US crude oil production averaged 9.3 million b/d in 2017. EIA projects that US crude oil production will average 10.7 million b/d in 2018, which would mark the highest annual average US 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.