Report: Marcellus, Utica Shale Plays Drive Domestic Natural Gas Production Growth

Domestic natural gas production and use – especially in power generation and manufacturing – will expand significantly over the next three decades, the federal Energy Information Administration reported today. The agency projects in its 2019 Annual Energy Outlook that natural gas will experience the largest production increase of all fossil fuels, with the Marcellus and Utica shale plays driving much of the growth.

Increased production unlocked by the shale revolution has put the U.S. on course to become a net energy exporter starting in 2020, according to the EIA’s forecast. This shift in energy outlook has boosted American energy security,  and created sustained economic growth, all while delivering home energy savings and considerable environmental progress.

Here are a few key takeaways from EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2019:

  • U.S. Energy Security: “The United States becomes a net energy exporter in 2020 and remains so throughout the projection period as a result of large increases in crude oil, natural gas, and natural gas plant liquids (NGPL).”
  • Natural Gas Production Growth: “Of the fossil fuels, natural gas and NGPLs have the highest production growth, and NGPLs account for almost one-third of cumulative U.S. liquids production during the projection period.”
  • Clean, Natural Gas Power Plant Expansion: “The power sector experiences a notable shift in fuels used to generate electricity, driven in part by historically low natural gas prices. Increased natural gas-fired electricity generation; larger shares of intermittent renewables; and additional retirements of less economic existing coal and nuclear plants occur during the projection period.” With relatively low natural gas prices throughout the projection period in the Reference case, natural gas-fired generation grows steadily and remains the dominant fuel in the electric power sector through 2050.”
  • Falling Power Sector Carbon Emissions: “The generation fuel mix in the electric power sector has changed since the mid-2000s, with lower generation from high-carbon intensive coal and higher generation from natural gas and carbon-free renewables, such as wind and solar. This change resulted in the overall CO2 intensity of the electric power sector declining by 25% from the mid-2000s to 2018 and continuing to decline through 2050.”
  • Domestic Natural Gas Consumption Growth: “Natural gas consumption rises as well, driven by projected low natural gas prices. In the Reference case, the industrial sector becomes the largest consumer of natural gas starting in the early 2020s. This sector will expand the use of natural gas as feedstock in the chemical industries and as lease and plant fuel, for industrial heat and power, and for liquefied natural gas production.”

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