July 10, 2018 / 5:53 PM / 3 months ago

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

(Reuters) - U.S. dry natural gas production should rise to an all-time high of 81.34 billion cubic feet per day in 2018 from 73.57 bcfd in 2017, according to the Energy Information Administration’s Short Term Energy Outlook (STEO) on Tuesday.

The latest July output projection for 2018 was up from the EIA’s 81.20-bcfd forecast in June 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 79.65 bcfd in 2018 from 74.22 bcfd in 2017.

That 2018 demand projection in the July STEO report was up from EIA’s 79.57-bcfd forecast for the year in its June report and would easily top the current annual record high of 75.10 bcfd consumed on average in 2016.

In 2019, EIA projected output would rise to 84.46 bcfd, while usage would slip to 79.57 bcfd.

After becoming a net gas exporter for the first time in 60 years in 2017, EIA projected U.S. net exports would rise to an average of 2.0 bcfd in 2018 and 5.5 bcfd in 2019, up from 0.4 bcfd in 2017.

In electric generation, 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 in 2016.

EIA projected gas’ share of generation would rise to 34 percent in 2018 and 35 percent in 2019 from 32 percent in 2017.

Coal’s share of generation, meanwhile, was forecast to slide to 28 percent in 2018 and 27 percent in 2019 from 30 percent in 2017.

Wind power capacity was expected to rise to 94 gigawatts by the end of 2018 and 104 GW by the end of 2019, from about 88 GW at the end of 2017. The nation’s generating capacity from all sources totaled about 1,084 GW at the end of 2017.

EIA said it expected solar power capacity to rise to 52 GW by the end of 2018 and 67 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 5,142 million tonnes in 2017, the least since 1992, EIA projected U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions would rise to 5,233 million tonnes in 2018 and 5,204 million tonnes in 2019 because of changes in weather, economic growth and energy prices.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by David Gregorio and James Dalgleish

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