WASHINGTON — The Henry Hub spot price averaged $4.05 per MMBtu in August, 37 cents lower than the July average, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) latest Short-Term Energy Outlook report. This month’s report lowers the 2011 forecast by 4 cents to $4.20 per MMBtu and lowers the 2012 forecast by 11 cents to $4.30 per MMBtu, the report says.
Part of this downturn is due to natural gas consumption for electric power generation falling from 29.7 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in July to 29.2 Bcf/d in August, as July’s extreme temperatures eased, EIA says. Still, the administration expects that total natural gas consumption will grow by 1.8% to 67.3 Bcf/d in 2011.
The outlook is better for route drivers as well, with regular-grade gasoline retail prices falling by 40 cents per gallon from their peak this year of $3.97 per gallon on May 9 to $3.57 per gallon on June 27, EIA says. Gasoline retail prices stabilized in July and August with weekly retail prices averaging between $3.58 per gallon and $3.71 per gallon, but are projected to fall to an average $3.47 per gallon in the fourth quarter 2011 after refiners switch production from summer-grade gasoline to lower-cost winter-grade gasoline.
EIA expects U.S. refiner average crude oil acquisition cost will average $100 per barrel in 2011 and $103 per barrel in 2012. But energy price forecasts are highly uncertain, the report says.