U.S. Raises 2011 Oil Price Estimate to $86.08, Bolsters Outlook for Demand

The U.S. Energy Department bolstered its crude oil price forecast for 2011 on projections for higher global economic growth.

West Texas Intermediate oil, the U.S. benchmark, will average $86.08 a barrel next year, up from last month’s forecast of $85.17, the department said today in its monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook. Prices in 2010 will average $78.98, 18 cents higher than November’s estimate of $78.80.

“It doesn’t take that much of an increase in demand to tighten the market and raise prices,” said Tancred Lidderdale, an economist with the department’s Energy Information Administration in Washington, who helped write the report.

The department raised its outlook for global oil consumption next year to 87.78 million barrels a day from 87.77 million last month. The 2010 demand projection increased to 86.35 million, up from 86.33 in November.

U.S. oil consumption will average 19.24 million barrels a day next year, up 80,000 barrels from last month’s forecast. This year’s projection was bolstered by 10,000 barrels from the November report.

Regular gasoline at the pump, averaged nationwide, will cost $3 a gallon in 2011, up 1 percent from $2.97 estimated in the November report. The fuel will average $2.77 a gallon this year, up 18 percent from $2.35 in 2009 and unchanged from last month’s projection.

U.S. heating oil users will spend an average $2,176 this winter, up 1.4 percent from $2,146 forecast last month and 14 percent higher than the average $1,907 spent by households last winter. The cost per gallon will average $3.18 this heating season, up 5 cents from last month’s estimate.

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at dstets@bloomberg.net.

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