BY JOE SILHA, SCOTT DISAVINO, and MARGUERITA CHOY
SOURCE: Reuters — The U.S. Energy Information Administration slightly raised its estimate for domestic natural gas production in 2013 on Tuesday, expecting output this year to be up about 1.2 percent from 2012's record high levels.
In its October Short-Term Energy Outlook, the EIA said it expected marketed natural gas production in 2013 to rise by 0.82 billion cubic feet per day to 70.00 bcf per day, up fractionally from its September outlook of 69.91 bcf daily.
If the forecast is realized, it would be the third straight year of record production.
Domestic output in 2014 is expected to set another record high, up 0.43 bcfd to 70.43 bcfd. EIA had previously estimated 2014 production at 70.42 bcfd.
Natural gas pipeline imports, primarily from Canada which have fallen over the last five years, are projected to slip slightly in 2013 to just over 8 bcf per day, then remain near that level in 2014.
Imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) are expected to remain at minimal levels of around 0.4 bcf per day in both 2013 and 2014, EIA said.
EIA also slightly raised its estimate for 2013 consumption, expecting usage to be up by 0.32 bcfd, or 0.3 percent, from 2012 to 70.00 bcf daily.
The agency expects colder winter temperatures to boost gas used for residential and commercial space heating. But the EIA noted that higher gas prices this year have contributed to declines in gas used to generate electricity.
In 2014, EIA sees total gas use slipping 0.58 bcf per day, or 0.8 percent, to 69.42 bcf daily, with higher gas prices again curbing demand from the power sector.
EIA projected the share of power generation fueled by gas in 2013 will average 27.4 percent, down from 2012's average of 30.4 percent. In 2014, that share is expected to decline to 26.6 percent.
The agency projected that coal's share of power generation will rise to 39.7 percent this year from 37.4 percent in 2012, then climb to 40.5 percent in 2014.
EIA forecast Henry Hub natural gas prices GT-HH-IDX in 2013 to average $3.71 per million British thermal units, up 3 cents from its September estimate of $3.68 and 35 percent above 2012's estimated average of $2.75.
In 2014, EIA expects gas prices to rise 29 cents, or 8 percent, to $4.00 per mmBtu.