US raises its crude pricing forecast, citing Syria war worries

10 September 2013 18:59  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--The US Department of Energy (DOE) on Tuesday raised its forecast for crude oil prices for the rest of this year and into 2014, citing supply disruptions in Libya and worries of a wider Mideast war in the Syria conflict.

In its monthly short-term energy outlook (STEO), the department’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) said that it now expects the average price for benchmark Brent crude oil will climb to $109/bbl (€82/bbl) over the second half of this year, an increase of $5/bbl from the administration’s forecast in August.

EIA also raised its outlook for the Brent average price for full-year 2014 to $102/bbl, an increase of $2/bbl from last month’s STEO forecast.

In the forecast issued on Tuesday, EIA also raised its outlook for the 2014 price for US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude, saying it now expects WTI will average $96/bbl next year, an increase of $3/bbl from the administration’s month-earlier forecast.

The administration noted that “monthly average crude oil prices increased for the fourth consecutive month in August as supply disruptions in Libya increased and concerns over the conflict in Syria intensified”.

President Barack Obama has said he will launch a limited military strike against Syria to punish the government of President Bashir Assad for his alleged use of chemical weapons on 21 August during Syria’s two-year-old civil war.

The prospect of a US strike on Syria, however limited, raised fears among many that the Syrian civil war might be widened.  Syria and Iran warned of strikes against Israel and US interests in the Middle East of Obama were to launch an attack.

Those worries eased on Tuesday, however, when the US and Russia began talks on a plan to have Syria’s chemical weapon stockpiles handed over to international monitors, a diplomatic opening that has lessened odds for a near-term US strike.

EIA said its crude oil pricing forecasts also were influenced by unplanned outages among global oil producers, which took some 2.7m bbls/day off the market in August.

In its September STEO, EIA lowered its outlook for US natural gas pricing for this year and next.

The administration said that it expects the Henry Hub spot price for natgas will average $3.68/MMBtu for this year, down slightly from last month’s STEO forecast of $3.71/MMBtu.

EIA said it expects the Henry Hub spot price will average $3.91/MMBtu for 2014, a reduction of four cents from the administration’s forecast of $3.95/MMBtu last month.

($1 = €0.75)

By: Joe Kamalick
+1 713 525 2653

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