Natural Gas, Oil and Fuel All Climb

Natural gas and oil prices rose in November, a trend that federal energy officials expect will continue next year.

EIA sees oil and natural gas prices rising in the new year. (Photo By: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

EIA sees oil and natural gas prices rising in the new year. (Photo By: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The average spot price for natural gas at Louisiana's Henry Hub was $3.01 per million British thermal units last month, up 14 cents from October, the Energy Information Administration reported in its Short-Term Energy Outlook issued Dec. 12.

"Expected growth in natural gas exports and domestic natural gas consumption in 2018 contribute to an increase in EIA's forecast Henry Hub natural gas spot price from an annual average of $3.01/MMBtu in 2017 to $3.12/MMBtu in 2018," the report said.

Those higher prices mean natural gas will have a smaller share of the nation's total utility-scale electricity generation. While it was at 34 percent last year, EIA sees it averaging 32 percent this year and remaining relatively unchanged in 2018.

More renewables are also making an impact. The report expects this year's total wind capacity to hit 88 gigawatts, up from 81 GW last year. In a year's time, it's forecast to be 96 GW. And solar is expected to climb from 22 GW in 2016 to 27 GW this year and 30 GW next year.

On the oil front, North Sea Brent crude spot prices averaged $63 a barrel last month, up $5 from October.

"EIA forecasts Brent spot prices to average $57/barrel in 2018, up from an average of $54/barrel in 2017," the report said. But it noted that West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices "are forecast to average $4/barrel lower than Brent prices in 2018."

Higher crude prices hit drivers last month, with a gallon of regular up 6 cents to an average $2.56. EIA is forecasting an average of $2.59 this month, up 34 cents from last December.

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