E.I.A. forecasts crude oil prices to average $65 per barrel

by Keith Nunes
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WASHINGTON — The Energy Information Administration (E.I.A.) of the U.S. Department of Energy has forecasted the 2007 price for a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil to average between $64 and $65. The forecast is based on several factors, including a modest increase in Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) production, non-OPEC supply growth and growth in oil demand.

The E.I.A. added that despite the fairly stable outlook, the market for oil will continue to face short-term volatility. Prices could increase if weather or security-related disruptions continue to threaten production in OPEC producing countries and the rest of the world, or if delays in non-OPEC supply growth continue.

Prices could decrease if oil demand growth slows or if Saudi Arabia decides to abandon production cuts in order to gain greater cooperation from other OPEC members.

The E.I.A. is forecasting the Henry Hub natural gas price to average $7.06 per thousand cubic feet in 2007, an increase of 12c compared to 2006. Industrial sector natural gas consumption is estimated to have declined by 1.5% in 2006 and is projected to increase 1.1% in 2007.

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