(Reuters) - U.S. dry natural gas production should rise to an all-time high of 82.67 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) in 2018 from 74.77 bcfd in 2017, according to the Energy Information Administration’s Short Term Energy Outlook (STEO) on Wednesday.
The latest October output projection for 2018 was up from the 80.96 bcfd forecast in September 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 80.58 bcfd in 2018 from 74.27 bcfd in 2017.
That 2018 demand projection in the October STEO report was up from the 79.81 bcfd forecast by the EIA for the year in its September report and would top the current annual record high of 75.10 bcfd consumed on average in 2016.
In 2019, EIA projected output would rise to 87.73 bcfd, while usage would slip to 80.42 bcfd.
After the United States became a net gas exporter for the first time in 60 years in 2017, EIA projected U.S. net exports would rise to 2.1 bcfd in 2018 and 7.6 bcfd in 2019, 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 it took that title from coal for the first time in 2016.
EIA projected the share of gas generation would rise to 35 percent in 2018 and 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.
The EIA projected the electric sector would burn only 640.1 million short tons of coal in 2018, which would be the lowest in 35 years, and 603.9 million short tons in 2019, the lowest since 1982. That compares with 664.7 million short tons in 2017, which was the lowest since 1984.
U.S. carbon emissions have dropped as the power sector burns less coal.
After U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions declined to 5,147 million tonnes in 2017, the least since 1992, EIA projected they would rise to 5,261 million tonnes in 2018 before sliding to 5,203 million tonnes in 2019 because of changes in weather, economic growth and energy prices.
Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Chris Reese