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

(Reuters) - U.S. dry natural gas production will rise to an all-time high of 92.13 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) in 2019 from a record high of 83.80 bcfd last year, the Energy Information Administration said in its Short Term Energy Outlook (STEO) on Wednesday.

The latest output projection for 2019 was up from EIA’s 91.63 bcfd forecast in October.

EIA also projected U.S. gas consumption would rise to an all-time high of 85.10 bcfd in 2019 from a record 82.50 bcfd a year ago.

The 2019 demand projection in the November STEO report was up from EIA’s 84.25 bcfd forecast for the year in October.

EIA projected output in 2020 would rise to 94.95 bcfd, and demand would rise to 86.45 bcfd.

The agency forecast U.S. net gas exports would reach 4.8 bcfd in 2019 and 7.4 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 38% in 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 2019 to 19% in 2020.

The EIA projected the power sector would burn 558.3 million short tons of coal in 2019, the lowest since 1979, and 488.9 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 6,003 million tonnes in 2007 as the power sector burns less coal, falling to a 25-year low of 5,130 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 5,180 million tonnes in 2019 and 5,074 million tonnes in 2020, the lowest since 1991, as more coal plants retire.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Marguerita Choy