WASHINGTON — The warmer-than-normal weather this past winter contributed to natural gas working inventories that continue to set new record seasonal highs, with March ending at an estimated 2.48 trillion cubic feet, about 57% above the same time last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Short-Term Energy Outlook Report.
EIA’s average 2012 Henry Hub natural gas spot price forecast is $2.51 per million British thermal units (MMBtu), a decline of $1.49 per MMBtu from the 2011 average spot price. EIA expects that Henry Hub spot prices will average $3.40 per MMBtu in 2013.
Electricity generation from coal is expected to decline by about 10% in 2012 as generation from natural gas increases by about 17%. EIA forecasts that electricity generation from coal will increase by about 7% and generation from natural gas will fall by 3% in 2013 as projected coal prices to the power sector fall slightly while natural gas prices increase.
During the April-through-September summer driving season this year, regular gasoline retail prices are forecast to average about $3.95 per gallon, peaking in May at a monthly average price of $4.01 per gallon. EIA expects regular gasoline retail prices to average $3.81 per gallon in 2012 and $3.73 per gallon in 2013, compared with $3.53 per gallon in 2011.