Fleet Management

Government Lowers Diesel Price Estimates for 2012

May 08, 2012

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The Department of Energy expects that on-highway diesel fuel retail prices, which averaged $3.84 per gallon in 2011, will average $4.06 per gallon in 2012, which is 9 cents per gallon lower than in last month's outlook.
In 2013, diesel fuel retail prices are projected to decline to $4.03 per gallon, 8 cents per gallon lower than the previous outlook.

In its monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook, the DOE's Energy Information Administration also reduced its estimates for gasoline prices for the summer driving season and its per-barrel estimate for the cost of U.S. crude oil

U.S. oil prices and production

EIA's current forecast of the average U.S. refiner acquisition cost of crude oil in 2012 is $110 per barrel, which is $2.50 per barrel lower than in last month's Outlook but still about $8 per barrel higher than last year's average price. EIA expects the price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil to average about $104 per barrel in 2012, about $2 per barrel lower than the forecast in last month's outlook but $9 per barrel higher than the 2011 average price. EIA expects crude oil prices to remain relatively flat in 2013.

EIA expects U.S. total crude oil production to average 6.2 million barrels per day in 2012, an increase of 0.5 million bbl/d from last year, and the highest level of production since 1998. Forecast lower-48 onshore crude oil production in 2012 averages over 4.3 million bbl/d, reaching its highest level since 1993. Projected U.S domestic crude oil production increases to 6.4 million bbl/d in 2013, driven primarily by growth in lower-48 onshore production.

Gasoline prices

With falling global crude oil prices over the past month, EIA has lowered the average regular gasoline retail price forecast for the current April-through-September summer driving season to $3.79 per gallon, 16 cents per gallon below the level in the previous outlook. EIA expects regular gasoline retail prices to average $3.71 per gallon in 2012 and $3.67 per gallon in 2013, compared with $3.53 per gallon in 2011.

Natural gas

Very mild weather over the past winter contributed to natural gas working inventories that continue to set new record seasonal highs, with April 2012 ending at an estimated 2.61 trillion cubic feet, about 46% more than the same time last year. EIA's average 2012 Henry Hub natural gas spot price forecast is $2.45 per million British thermal units, a decline of $1.55 per MMBtu from the 2011 average spot price. EIA expects that Henry Hub spot prices will average $3.17 per MMBtu in 2013.

To see the full forecast, go to www.eia.gov/forecasts/steo.

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