Dry natural gas production in the United States is about to reach a fresh record of 81 Bcf per day, spurring LNG export growth and pushing down prices this year. According to the U.S. Energy Agency (EIA), Henry Hub prices are forecast to average $2.99/MMBtu for the full year 2018, but notch up to $3.08/MMBtu in 2019.
Competition is fierce for nuclear power in the United States as energy mix is being transformed by comparatively cheap natural gas, rising supply of renewable energy, and limited growth in overall electricity demand. Sensitivity analysis in the EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2018 (AEO2018) show the potential effect on the U.S. nuclear power fleet of different assumption for reactor operating cost, future gas prices and carbon policies.
Dry natural gas production in the United States is forecast to reach a new record of 80.5 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2018, up from 73.6 Bcf/d in the previous year. According to the EIA’s latest Short-term Energy Outlook (STEO), the rise in US natural gas production will help replenish storage levels from current lows and support increasing natural gas exports, both via pipeline to Mexico and in the form of LNG.
Dry natural gas production in the United States will keep growing over the next three decades, driven by demand from the industrial and electric power sectors. Beyond 2020, production is likely to grow faster than consumption, according to the EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2018, with excess volumes to be exported to Mexico or sold on global LNG markets.
The February 2018 futures contract for natural gas on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) is trading at a discount to the current spot price. This pricing pattern provides economic incentives to withdraw natural gas from storage to avoid exposure to the spot market.
Mexico, the largest offtaker of US pipeline gas and LNG importer from Peru, Nigeria and the US, is getting ready to launch an online gas trading platform by the summer of this year, at the latest. The Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), Mexico’s state-owned grid operator, also plans to set up several gas pricing points. “We'll have Henry Hub, too, as that's what we now have,” said Javier Gutierrez Becerril, director of operations at CFE Energy.
Low-cost of natural gas has allowed it to stay the dominant source of power generation in the United States for the second year in a row. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that gas-fired power plants covered an average of 32% of total U.S. electricity needs in 2017, compared with 30% from coal power plants.
Spurred by rising gas demand from the electric power sector, industry and LNG exporters, US dry natural gas production is forecast to rise by an average of 80.4 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2018, up 6.9 Bcf/d or 9.3% on the 2017 level which would be the highest increase on record, according to EIA figures. A more moderate 3.2% rise of 2.6 Bcf/d is expected for 2019.
Freezing temperatures have crippled the energy infrastructure in New England for the past 10 days, sending prices for natural gas and fuel oil soaring. After a winter storm brought down a large nuclear plant, gas prices skyrocketed and operators turned on some oil-fired power stations. Managing the region’s power system “continues to be challenging,” the ISO New England grid operator warned, noting that some oil-fired generators were “quickly depleting their fuel supply”.
A rebound in crude oil and petroleum product prices has caused a 16% rise of the spot energy index in the Standard and Poor's (S&P) Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (GSCI) at year-end, after the index fell nearly 20% in the first half of the past year.