WASHINGTON — While 2010 natural-gas prices will end up slightly higher than 2009 prices, 2011 prices are trending just a bit lower than this year’s prices, according to the latest Energy Information Administration (EIA) short-term energy outlook.
The projected Henry Hub natural-gas spot price should average $4.37 per million Btu (MMBtu) for 2010, a $0.42-per-MMBtu increase over the 2009 average. EIA expects the Henry Hub spot price to average $4.33 per MMBtu in 2011.
During the winter season, the projected monthly average spot price should peak at $4.29 MMBtu in January 2011, before dropping back down close to $4 per MMBtu in June 2011.
Working natural gas in storage (at the end of November) was slightly below last year’s level. At the end of the winter heating season (March 31, 2011), EIA expects natural gas in storage to be slightly higher than at the end of March 2010.
For propane users, residential prices are $2.598 per gallon (as of Dec. 6), up $.15 from last month. Wholesale propane prices are $1.316 per gallon, up slightly ($.026) from last month.
If you’re spending more time in your car this month visiting your stores or doing a little shopping, you probably noticed that gasoline prices have spiked in the last week or so. The national average (as of Dec. 6) for a gallon of regular-grade motor gasoline was $2.95, despite a continued diminishing demand and oil inventories at a 19-year high, according to the EIA. Prices are rising because of various types of trading gambles, experts say.
EIA still expects regular-grade motor gasoline retail prices to average $2.88 per gallon this winter, despite the fact that some experts believe prices may soar to $3 a gallon by January.
If you’re looking for some relief after visiting the pump, EIA expects average household expenditures for space-heating fuels to total $962 this winter, about the same as last year’s expenditures. EIA projects higher expenditures for heating oil and propane, but lower expenditures for natural gas and electricity. Slightly higher projected fuel prices are offset by a forecast of milder weather than last year in all the regions, except the Northeast.