HOUSTON, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- U.S. natural gas prices, production, consumption and exports increased in 2018, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Monday.
In 2018, the average annual Henry Hub natural gas spot price increased to 3.16 U.S. dollars per million British thermal units, up 15 cents from the 2017 average, according to EIA. Prices rose gradually through much of the year, with significant price increases during October and November, before declining at the end of December.
EIA expected that U.S. natural gas production will reach record levels in 2018 when final data become available in the coming months.
Through the first 10 months of 2018, dry natural gas production in the United States was 11 percent higher compared with the same period in 2017. Growth has been driven by production increases in the Appalachian Basin in the Northeast of the country, the Permian Basin in western Texas and New Mexico and the Haynesville Shale in Texas and Louisiana.
The natural gas consumption through 2018 also increased as a result of growing U.S. production and low temperatures during the winter months. The rise has been largely driven by natural gas-fired plants replacing coal-fired plants in the electricity fuel mix, with consumption during the first 10 months 17 percent higher than 2017 levels.
What's more, the United States exported more natural gas than it imported for the second year in a row in 2018 because of continued growth of both U.S. liquefied natural gas exports and pipeline natural gas exports to Mexico.
In the near term, weather will remain as the primary driver for the U.S. natural gas price. Given its lower inventory level, significant volatility could happen in case of supply and demand disruption, industry insiders said.