In Washington, the US Energy Information Agency released its February Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), and reported that implied global petroleum and liquid fuels inventories are estimated to have increased by 0.8 million barrels per day (b/d) in 2016. EIA expects the oil market to be relatively balanced in 2017 and 2018, with inventory draws averaging 0.1 million b/d in 2017 and builds averaging 0.2 million b/d in 2018.
The EIA said that benchmark North Sea Brent crude oil spot prices averaged $55/barrel (b) in January, a $1/b increase from December. This price was $24/b higher than the January 2016 average, and it was the highest monthly average for Brent spot prices since July 2015. At ths time, EIA forecasts Brent crude oil prices to average $55/b in 2017 and $57/b in 2018. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices are forecast to average about $1/b less than Brent prices in 2017. The NYMEX contract values for April 2017 delivery traded during the five-day period ending February 2 suggest that a range from $45/b to $65/b encompasses the market expectation of WTI prices in April 2017 at the 95% confidence level. U.S. regular gasoline retail prices are expected to decrease from an average of $2.35/gallon (gal) in January 2017 to an average of $2.27/gal in February and then rise to $2.33/gal in March. U.S. regular gasoline retail prices are forecast to average $2.39/gal in 2017 and $2.44/gal in 2018.