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Benchmark Brent and West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices in 2013 are expected to be higher than previously forecast, though still down from 2012 levels amid increasing production and weaker consumption in industrialized countries, the Energy Information Administration said in its latest monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook.
WTI spot prices will average an estimated $92.63 a barrel next year, down 3.2% from a projected $95.66 this year but up from $90.25 in the EIA’s previous 2013 forecast. Brent is forecast to average $103.38 in 2013, down 7.5% from $111.81 in 2012. Last month, the EIA estimated Brent would average $100 in 2013.
EIA figures suggest sluggish economies in the U.S. and Europe will dampen energy demand into next year. Projected crude and liquid fuels consumption in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries is expected to decline 0.4% in 2013, to 45.21 million barrels a day, though total global consumption is seen rising 1.1%, led by China.
WTI’s discount to Brent is expected to shrink to an average of about $9 a barrel by the end of 2013 from $17 during the fourth quarter this year.
In natural gas, growth in U.S. consumption is expected to weaken as projected higher prices relative to coal slows the trend toward substituting gas for coal to fire electric power plants. Coal-fired electricity generation is projected to rise 9% next year while gas generation falls 10%