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Energy

U.S. natgas output, demand to fall in 2020 from peaks due to coronavirus

FILE PHOTO: A natural gas rig is pictured in Springfield Township, Pennsylvania, November 30, 2012. REUTERS/Brett Carlsen/File Photo

(Reuters) - U.S. natural gas production and demand will drop in 2020 from record highs last year as coronavirus lockdowns cut economic activity and energy prices, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in its Short Term Energy Outlook (STEO) on Tuesday.

The EIA projected dry gas production will drop to 90.64 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) in 2020 and 86.81 bcfd in 2021 from the all-time high of 93.06 bcfd in 2019.

It also projected gas consumption would fall to 83.66 bcfd in 2020 and 78.73 bcfd in 2021, from a record 85.20 bcfd in 2019.

That would be the first annual decline in consumption since 2017 and the first time demand has fallen for two consecutive years since 2006.

The EIA’s projections for 2020 in October were higher than its September forecasts of 89.88 bcfd for supply and 82.68 bcfd for demand.

The agency forecast U.S. liquefied natural gas exports would reach 6.32 bcfd in 2020 and 8.73 bcfd in 2021, up from a record 4.98 bcfd in 2019. That is higher than its September forecasts of 6.27 bcfd in 2020.

U.S. coal production is expected to fall 26% to 525 million short tons in 2020, which would be its lowest level since 1964, before rising to 625 million short tons in 2021 when power plants are expected to burn more coal due to a forecast increase in gas prices, EIA said.

It projected carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels will fall to 4.606 billion tonnes in 2020, the lowest since 1986, from 5.142 billion tonnes in 2019, the lowest since 2017, before rising to 4.855 billion tonnes in 2021 as power generators burn more coal.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Marguerita Choy

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