The Department of Energy's projections for oil and fuel prices for the rest of the year are higher than they were last month, according to the monthly Short Term Energy Outlook from the DOE's Energy Information Administration.
EIA projects that the Brent crude oil spot price will average about $103 per barrel during the second half of 2012, about $3.50 per barrel higher than in last month's Outlook. The forecast Brent crude oil spot price falls to an average of $100 per barrel in 2013.
The projected West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil spot price discount to Brent crude oil narrows from about $14 in the third quarter of 2012 to $9 by late 2013.
These price forecasts assume that world oil-consumption-weighted real gross domestic product, which increased by 3% in 2011, grows by 2.8% in 2012 and 2.9% in 2013.
EIA now expects that on-highway diesel fuel retail prices, which averaged $3.84 per gallon in 2011, will average $3.84 per gallon and $3.62 per gallon in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
EIA increased the average regular gasoline retail price forecast for the third quarter of 2012 to $3.49 per gallon from $3.39 per gallon in last month's Outlook. EIA expects regular gasoline retail prices, which averaged $3.53 per gallon in 2011, to average $3.53 per gallon in 2012 and $3.33 per gallon in 2013.
Natural gas working inventories ended July 2012 at an estimated 3.2 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), about 17% above the same time last year. EIA expects the Henry Hub natural gas spot price, which averaged $4 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) in 2011, to average $2.67 per MMBtu in 2012 and $3.34 per MMBtu in 2013.