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

U.S. dry natural gas production will rise to an all-time high of 91.35 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) in 2019 from a record high of 83.39 bcfd last year, the Energy Information Administration’s Short Term Energy Outlook (STEO) said.

The latest July output projection for 2019 was up from EIA’s 90.60 bcfd forecast in June.

EIA also projected U.S. gas consumption would rise to an all-time high of 84.59 bcfd in 2019 from a record high 82.07 bcfd a year ago.

The 2019 demand projection in the July STEO report was up from EIA’s 84.17 bcfd forecast for the year in June.

EIA projected output in 2020 would rise to 92.79 bcfd but demand would slide to 84.54 bcfd.

The agency forecast U.S. net gas exports would reach 5.1 bcfd in 2019 and 8.1 bcfd in 2020, up from 2.0 bcfd in 2018. The United States became a net gas exporter for the first time in 60 years in 2017.

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

It projected the share of gas generation would rise to 38% in 2019 from 35% in 2018 before slipping to 37% in 2020.

Coal’s share of generation was forecast to slide to 24% in 2019 and 23% in 2020 from 27% in 2018.

Nuclear’s share of generation will fall from 20% in 2019 to 19% in 2020 due to the retirement of five reactors in 2019 and 2020, while renewables will rise from 17% in 2018 to 18% in 2019 and 20% in 2020.

EIA projected the power sector would burn 537.7 million short tons of coal in 2019, the lowest since 1979, and 515.4 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 6,002 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 5,268 million tonnes due to a booming economy and higher gas consumption during a colder winter and warmer summer.

EIA projected carbon emissions would slip to 5,154 million tonnes in 2019 and 5,119 million tonnes in 2020, the lowest since 1992, as more coal plants retire.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Tom Brown and Chizu Nomiyama)

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