Coming out of 2009 with an annual average of $2.46 per gallon, the EIA boosted its energy price forecast for diesel for 2010 by another 2 cents, up from last month's $2.96 a gallon projection. Over the last three weeks, diesel prices have been rising steadily, jumping 8.2 cents to $2.879 this week.
Assuming that the U.S. real gross domestic product rises by 2 percent in 2010 and by 2.7 percent in 2011, EIA says the price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil will average about $80 and $84 per barrel in 2010 and 2011, respectively. The forecast also assumes that world oil-consumption-weighted real GDP grows as well.
Crude oil reached its highest level in over a year last week, as the price was propped up by the cold winter weather. It reached over $83 before settling down at $82.52 a barrel Monday on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Rising crude oil prices are expected to buoy retail gasoline prices, which averaged $2.35 per gallon in 2009. The EIA expects prices to average $2.84 in 2010 and $2.96 in 2011. Prices should surpass the $3 mark at some point during spring and summer, the EIA says.