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US pipeline, LNG exports support EIA's 2019 price outlook above $3/MMBtu

The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects the 2018 Henry Hub spot natural gas price to slip from the 2017 average before gaining ground in 2019, as U.S. natural gas exports rise and domestic consumption slips.

The 2019 Henry Hub spot natural gas price is forecast to average $3.10/MMBtu, above the 2018 average of $2.96/MMBtu, which is below the $2.99/MMBtu 2017 average, the EIA said in its Aug. 7 "Short-term Energy Outlook."

U.S. dry natural gas production is forecast to rise from 73.6 Bcf/d in 2017 to 81.1 Bcf/d in 2018, then jump to 84.1 Bcf/d in 2019.

Supporting the rising production, pipeline exports of natural gas, which averaged 6.7 Bcf/d in 2017, are expected to average 7.0 Bcf/d in 2018 and 8.5 Bcf/d in 2019, as new pipelines carry U.S. supply to demand centers in Mexico.

"In June, two new pipelines were placed in service in Mexico that will distribute natural gas from the United States to destinations in Mexico," the EIA said.

In addition, the EIA forecasts exports of liquefied natural gas to rise from 1.9 Bcf/d in 2017 to 3.0 Bcf/d in 2018 and to 5.1 Bcf/d in 2019, contributing to U.S. net exports of natural gas averaging 2.0 Bcf/d in 2018 and 5.4 Bcf/d in 2019, compared with 0.3 Bcf/d in 2017.

Domestic natural gas consumption is called to increase to 79.6 Bcf/d in 2018 from 74.2 Bcf/d in 2017 as the share of natural gas used for power generation is forecast to rise from 32% in 2017 to 34% in 2018. For 2019, natural gas consumption is called to drift to 79.5 Bcf/d even as its market share in the electric-generation sector is called to climb to 35%.