January 9, 2018 / 5:25 PM / 4 months ago

U.S. natgas output, demand seen rising to record highs in 2018

(Reuters) - U.S. dry natural gas production was forecast to rise to an all-time high of 80.42 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) in 2018 from 73.57 bcfd in 2017, according to the Energy Information Administration’s Short Term Energy Outlook (STEO) on Tuesday.

The latest January output projection for 2018 was up from the EIA’s 79.70-bcfd forecast in December and would easily top the current annual record high of 74.15 bcfd produced on average in 2015.

EIA also projected U.S. gas consumption would rise to an all-time high of 77.53 bcfd in 2018 from 74.04 bcfd in 2017.

That 2018 demand projection in the January STEO report was up from EIA’s 76.85-bcfd forecast for the year in its December report and would easily top the current annual record high of 75.10 bcfd consumed on average in 2016.

Both production and consumption would jump to record highs in 2019 with output hitting 83.02 bcfd and usage reaching 79.72 bcfd, the EIA forecast.

In electric generation, the EIA projected gas would remain the primary U.S. power plant fuel in 2018 and 2019 after taking that title from coal for the first time ever in 2016. Coal had been the primary fuel for U.S. generators for the last century.

The EIA projected gas’ share of generation would rise to 33.1 percent in 2018 and 34.3 percent in 2019 from 31.7 percent in 2017.

Coal’s share of generation was forecast to slide to 29.6 percent in 2018 and 28.1 percent in 2019 from 30.1 percent in 2017.

Wind power capacity was expected to rise to 96 gigawatts by the end of 2018 and 104 GW by the end of 2019, from about 88 GW in 2016.

The EIA said it expected solar power capacity to rise to 50 GW by the end of 2018 and 65 GW by the end of 2019 from 43 GW in 2017.

One gigawatt is enough to power about 1 million U.S. homes.

After declining to 5,137 million tonnes in 2017, the least since 1992, the EIA projected U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions would rise by 1 percent to 5,225 million tonnes in 2018 and 0.2 percent to 5,235 million tonnes in 2019 due to changes in weather, economic growth, and energy prices, the EIA said.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Andrew Hay

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