Petroleum prices should remain high for the foreseeable future, while natural gas prices should remain low and electricity prices are likely to increase slowly. Demand is likely to remain high for nitrogen, potash and phosphorus fertilizers, but production costs will have much less impact than commodity prices.

A potential waiver of the renewable fuels standard (RFS) would result in little change to commodity prices.

That’s the energy and fertilizer outlook in a nutshell, but Henry Bryant, research associate with the Agricultural and Food Policy Center, Department of Agricultural Economics, Texas A&M, offered details on what’s driving those prices during the recent Southwest Ag Issues Summit in Austin.

Hurricane Isaac, Bryant said, caused relatively little disruption of short-term or long-term energy supply. “Isaac didn’t do a lot of long-term damage to the infrastructure, and facilities were soon back on line.” The impact on the global market was about 1.5 percent. “Isaac was not a terrible problem and occurred when there was a fairly high stock of crude in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries.”

Looking a bit farther out, for the next 18 to 24 months, he says, non-OPEC countries, including the U.S., will have “a lot of new production in 2012 and more in 2013. High prices spur production.”

Petroleum prices have been high, “but not as high as in 2008.”

Forward pricing could be an iffy venture, Bryant says. “We expect prices to be relatively flat, with not a lot of increase.” The range of “confidence intervals” shows a possible spread of $45 a barrel to $180 a barrel. “We don’t expect prices to spike to $120.”