October 8, 2019 / 4:36 PM / 5 days ago

U.S. natgas output, demand seen rising to record highs in 2019

(Reuters) - U.S. dry natural gas production will rise to an all-time high of 91.63 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) in 2019 from a record high of 83.39 bcfd last year, the Energy Information Administration said in its Short Term Energy Outlook (STEO) on Tuesday.

The latest output projection for 2019 was up from EIA’s 91.39 bcfd forecast in September.

EIA also projected U.S. gas consumption would rise to an all-time high of 84.25 bcfd in 2019 from a record 81.86 bcfd a year ago.

The 2019 demand projection in the October STEO report was down from EIA’s 84.51 bcfd forecast for the year in September.

EIA projected output in 2020 would rise to 93.50 bcfd, and demand would rise to 84.96 bcfd.

The agency forecast U.S. net gas exports would reach 4.6 bcfd in 2019 and 7.2 bcfd in 2020, up from 2.0 bcfd in 2018. The United States became a net gas exporter in 2017 for the first time in 60 years.

The EIA projected gas would remain the primary U.S. power plant fuel in 2019 and 2020 after supplanting coal in 2016.

It projected the share of gas generation would rise to 37% in 2019 and 2020 from 34% in 2018.

Coal’s share of generation was forecast to slide to 25% in 2019 and 22% in 2020 from 28% in 2018.

Nuclear’s share of generation was expected to hold around 20% in 2019 and 2020, while renewables will rise from 17% in 2018 to 18% in 2019 and 19% in 2020.

The EIA projected the power sector would burn 545.8 million short tons of coal in 2019, the lowest since 1979, and 496.0 million tons in 2020, the lowest since 1978. That compares with 636.5 million tons in 2018, the lowest since 1983.

U.S. carbon emissions have mostly declined since peaking at 6,004 million tonnes in 2007 as the power sector burns less coal, falling to a 25-year low of 5,131 million tonnes in 2017.

But in 2018, energy-related carbon emissions rose for the first time in four years to 5,269 million tonnes due to a booming economy and higher gas consumption during a colder winter and warmer summer.

The EIA projected carbon emissions would slip to 5,142 million tonnes in 2019 and 5,054 million tonnes in 2020, the lowest since 1991, as more coal plants retire.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Chris Reese and Richard Chang

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