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Natural gas prices called to top $3.10/MMBtu in 2019 despite rising production

Although domestic natural gas production growth will outpace domestic demand, the price of natural gas will climb through 2019, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said.

In its latest "Short-Term Energy Outlook" released Oct. 10, the EIA forecasts the spot Henry Hub natural gas price will average $2.99/MMBtu in 2018, before climbing to $3.12/MMBtu in 2019. Both price estimates are unchanged from last month.

The EIA projects dry natural gas production will rise to an average 82.7 Bcf/d in 2018, due to higher-than-expected increases in Texas production in July that increased the baseline of the forecast. In 2019, production is expected to jump to 87.7 Bcf/d amid an expected boost in the Haynesville region production due to higher forecast prices, and upward revisions to the Permian region production on higher prices and new pipeline capacity.

Natural gas consumption will also jump in 2018 from 74.27 Bcf/d in 2017 to 80.58 Bcf/d, before edging back to 80.42 Bcf/d in 2019. The agency projects gross LNG exports will climb to average 2.95 Bcf/d in 2018 from 1.94 Bcf/d in 2017, and jump to 5.25 Bcf/d in 2019. Pipeline exports will climb from 6.74 Bcf/d to 7.15 Bcf/d in 2018 before gaining to 8.81 Bcf/d in 2019.

At the same time the EIA anticipates gross pipeline imports will slide from 8.12 Bcf/d the year prior to 7.79 Bcf/d in 2018, and slip to 6.20 Bcf/d in 2019.

In 2018, the EIA forecasts residential demand will average 13.25 Bcf/d, up from the prior year's 12.09 Bcf/d, while commercial-sector demand expected to average 9.03 Bcf/d, and industrial demand is seen averaging 22.55 Bcf/d, up from the prior-year averages of 8.67 Bcf/d and 21.78 Bcf/d, respectively. For 2019, residential-sector demand is expected to edge lower to average 13.13 Bcf/d, commercial-sector consumption is forecast to inch up to a 9.06 Bcf/d average and industrial-sector demand is forecast to sink to an average of 22.50 Bcf/d.

The EIA 2018 power-sector demand forecast of 28.72 Bcf/d is up from 25.34 Bcf/d in 2017, while power-sector demand in 2019 is forecast to slip to an average at 28.21 Bcf/d.