U.S. dry natural gas production should rise to an all-time high of 80.96 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2018 from 73.55 Bcf/d in 2017, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Short Term Energy Outlook (STEO) released Sept. 11.
The latest September output projection for 2018 was down from the EIA’s 81.10-Bcf/d forecast in August but would still easily top the current annual record high of 74.15 Bcf/d produced on average in 2015.
The EIA also projected U.S. gas consumption would rise to an all-time high of 79.81 Bcf/d in 2018 from 74.20 Bcf/d in 2017.
That 2018 demand projection in the September STEO report was up from EIA's 79.57-bcfd forecast for the year in its August 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 84.65 Bcf/d, while usage would slip to 79.67 Bcf/d.
After the United States became a net gas exporter for the first time in 60 years in 2017, the EIA projected U.S. net exports would rise to 2.0 Bcf/d in 2018 and 5.8 Bcf/d in 2019, up from 0.4 Bcf/d in 2017.
In electric generation, the 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.
The EIA projected gas’ share of generation would rise to 34% in 2018 and 35% in 2019 from 32% in 2017.
Coal’s share of generation, meanwhile, was forecast to slide to 28% in 2018 and 27% in 2019 from 30% in 2017.
The EIA projected the electric sector would only burn 648.2 million short tons of coal in 2018, which would be the lowest in 35 years, and 615.9 million short tons in 2019, the lowest since 1982. That compares with 664.7 million short tons in 2017, which was the lowest amount since 1984.
U.S. carbon emissions have dropped as the power sector burns less coal.
After U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions declined to 5,142 million tonnes in 2017, the least since 1992, EIA projected they would rise to 5,260 million tonnes in 2018 and 5,212 million tonnes in 2019 because of changes in weather, economic growth and energy prices.