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The US Energy Information Administration projects US coal production to total 751.2 million st in 2018, a 1.7% increase from the previous month's projection, according to the agency's monthly Short Term Energy Outlook released Tuesday.

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The agency did not give a reason for the higher estimate. The projected total would still be 2.7% lower than the 772 million st produced last year.

In 2019, it expects coal production to total 752 million st.

Power-sector coal consumption is projected to total 640 million st in 2018 and 633 million st in 2019, down from 665 million st in 2017.

In 2018, the agency expects coal to make up 28.7% of US power generation, and 28.5% in 2019. Coal made up 30.1% of US power generation in 2017.

Natural gas is expected to make up 33.6% of US power generation in 2018 and 34.2% in 2019, up from 31.6% in 2017.

The increase is largely due to an increase in dry natural gas production, which is projected to average 80.5 Bcf/d in 2018 and 83.3 Bcf/d in 2019. In 2017, the average rate was 73.6 Bcf/d.

Power-sector gas consumption is projected to total 9.78 Tcf in 2018 and 10.2 Tcf in 2019, compared with 9.3 Tcf in 2017.

The agency projects the spot Henry Hub price to average $3.12/MMBtu this year and $3.23/MMBtu in 2019, compared with $3.10/MMBtu in 2017.

Coal exports are projected to total 88.1 million st (79.9 million mt) this year, and 84.6 million st (76.7 million mt) in 2019 compared with 97 million st (88 million mt) in 2017.

--Andrew Moore,

--Edited by Lisa Miller,