Winter Fuels Outlook
- EIA forecasts that average U.S. household expenditures for most major home heating fuels will be higher this winter compared with last winter. Average increases vary by fuel; natural gas expenditures are forecast to rise by 5%, home heating oil by 20%, and electricity by 3%, while propane expenditures are forecast to remain similar to last year. Most of the increase reflects higher forecast energy prices. U.S. average heating degree days are expected to be 1% higher than last winter. However, realized expenditures are highly dependent on actual weather outcomes (Winter Fuels Outlook).
- EIA expects natural gas inventories to end October at the lowest levels for that time of year since 2005. Inventories of distillate fuel and propane are also below the five-year (2013–17) average in several regions. Although inventory levels are low, EIA expects fuel supplies to be adequate to meet winter demand.
Global liquid fuels
- Brent crude oil spot prices averaged $79 per barrel (b) in September, up $6/b from August. EIA expects Brent spot prices will average $74/b in 2018 and $75/b in 2019. EIA expects West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices will average about $6/b lower than Brent prices in 2018 and in 2019. NYMEX WTI futures and options contract values for January 2019 delivery that traded during the five-day period ending October 4, 2018, suggest a range of $60/b to $93/b encompasses the market expectation for January WTI prices at the 95% confidence level.
- EIA estimates that U.S. crude oil production averaged 11.1 million barrels per day (b/d) in September, up slightly from August levels. EIA forecasts that U.S. crude oil production will average 10.7 million b/d in 2018, up from 9.4 million b/d in 2017, and will average 11.8 million b/d in 2019.
- EIA estimates dry natural gas production in the United States averaged 85.1 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in September, up 0.6 Bcf/d from August. EIA forecasts that dry natural gas production will average 82.7 Bcf/d in 2018, up by 7.9 Bcf/d from 2017 and establishing a new record high. EIA expects natural gas production will continue to rise in 2019 to an average of 87.7 Bcf/d.
- EIA forecasts that U.S. natural gas storage inventories will total 3.3 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) at the end of October. This level would be 14% lower than both the 2017 end-of-October level and the five-year (2013–17) average for the end of October, and it would also mark the lowest level for that time of year since 2005.
- EIA expects Henry Hub natural gas spot prices to average $2.99/million British thermal units (MMBtu) in 2018 and $3.12/MMBtu in 2019. NYMEX futures and options contract values for January 2019 delivery that traded during the five-day period ending October 4, 2018, suggest a range of $2.22/MMBtu to $4.85/MMBtu encompasses the market expectation for January Henry Hub natural gas prices at the 95% confidence level.
Elecriticty, coal, renewables, and emissions
- EIA expects the share of U.S. total utility-scale electricity generation from natural gas-fired power plants to rise from 32% in 2017 to 35% in both 2018 and 2019. EIA’s forecast electricity generation share from coal averages 28% in 2018 and 27% in 2019, down from 30% in 2017. The nuclear share of generation was 20% in 2017 and EIA forecasts that it will be slightly below 20% in 2018 and in 2019. Wind, solar, and other nonhydropower renewables provided slightly less than 10% of electricity generation in 2017, and EIA expects them to provide more than 10% in 2018 and nearly 11% in 2019. The generation share of hydropower was 7% in 2017 and EIA forecasts that it will be about the same in 2018 and 2019.
- In 2017, EIA estimates that U.S. wind generation averaged 697,000 megawatthours per day (MWh/d). EIA forecasts that wind generation will rise by 8% to 750,000 MWh/d in 2018 and by a further 6% to 793,000 MWh/d in 2019.
- Solar power generates less electricity in the United States than wind power but continues to grow at a faster rate. EIA expects solar generation will rise from 211,000 MWh/d in 2017 to 267,000 MWh/d in 2018 (an increase of 26%) and to 305,000 MWh/d in 2019 (an increase of 14%).
- EIA forecasts U.S. coal production will decline by 2% to 756 MMst in 2018, despite a 12% (11 MMst) increase in coal exports. The production decrease is largely attributable to a forecast decline of 4% (26 MMst) in domestic coal consumption in 2018. EIA expects coal production to decline by 2% (13 MMst) in 2019 because it forecasts that coal exports and coal consumption will decrease by 7% and 5%, respectively.
- After declining by 0.8% in 2017, EIA forecasts that U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will rise by 2.2% in 2018. This increase largely reflects higher natural gas consumption because of a colder winter and a warmer summer than in 2017. EIA expects emissions to decline by 1.1% in 2019, as forecast temperatures are forecast to return to normal. Energy-related CO2 emissions are sensitive to changes in weather, economic growth, energy prices, and fuel mix.