U.S. Reduces 2010 Crude Oil Price Outlook, Increases World Demand Estimate

The Energy Department decreased its crude oil price forecast for 2010 on reduced projections of economic growth in the U.S., the world’s biggest oil consuming country.

West Texas Intermediate oil, the U.S. benchmark, will average $77.37 a barrel this year, down from last month’s forecast of $79.13, according to the department’s monthly Short- Term Energy Outlook, released today. That’s up 25 percent from the 2009 average of $61.66 a barrel.

Prices will climb 6 percent to average $82 a barrel in 2011, the report showed. The estimate for next year was down 1.8 percent from $83.50 in August’s report.

“We reduced our crude-oil price expectations mainly because our forecast of U.S. gross domestic product has been cut,” said Tancred Lidderdale, an economist with the department’s Energy Information Administration in Washington, who helped write the report.

U.S. gross domestic product will grow 2.8 percent this year and 2.3 percent in 2011, down from projections of 3.1 percent and 2.7 percent a month ago, according to the report.

Regular gasoline, averaged nationwide, will cost $2.76 a gallon from April through September, according to the report from the EIA, the department’s statistical arm. The motor-fuel estimate is down 4 cents from August. Prices will be 13 percent higher than last summer’s average of $2.44 a gallon.

Global Demand

The department raised its outlook for global oil consumption this year to 85.95 million barrels a day from 85.91 million last month. That’s up 1.9 percent from last year’s 84.33 million. Demand will climb to 87.36 million in 2011, 60,000 barrels a day lower than last month’s projection.

U.S. oil use will average 18.93 million barrels a day this year, up 160,000 barrels from 2009. This year’s forecast was increased 20,000 barrels from the August estimate. Consumption will climb 130,000 barrels to 19.06 million in 2011, according to the report.

The 12 members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries produced an average 29.46 million barrels a day in August, unchanged from the previous month, the report showed.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Shenk in New York at mshenk1@bloomberg.net.

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