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Last Updated: September 11, 2019
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Forecast HighlightsGlobal liquid fuels

  • Brent crude oil spot prices averaged $59 per barrel (b) in August, down $5/b from July and $13/b lower than the average from August of last year. EIA forecasts Brent spot prices will average $60/b in the fourth quarter of 2019 and $62/b in 2020. EIA forecasts that West Texas Intermediate (WTI) prices will average $5.50/b less than Brent prices in 2020.
  • EIA forecasts that global liquid fuels consumption will increase by 0.9 million barrels per day (b/d) in 2019, down from year-over-year growth of 1.3 million b/d in 2018. The slowing liquid fuels demand growth reflects EIA’s assumption (based on forecasts from Oxford Economics) of decelerating growth in the global oil-weighted gross domestic product (GDP). EIA expects that global liquid fuels demand will increase by 1.4 million b/d in 2020 as a result of an expected increase in global GDP growth.
  • EIA forecasts U.S. crude oil production will average 12.2 million b/d in 2019, up by 1.2 million from the 2018 level. Forecast crude oil production then rises by 1.0 million b/d in 2020 to an annual average of 13.2 million b/d. The slowing rate of crude oil production growth reflects relatively flat crude oil price levels and slowing growth in well-level productivity.

World liquid fuels production and consumption balance

Natural gas
  • The Henry Hub natural gas spot price averaged $2.22 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) in August, down 15 cents/MMBtu from July. This summer, prices have declined amid rising natural gas production, despite high levels of both natural gas exports and consumption in the electricity generation sector. Based on recent price movements and EIA’s assessment that natural gas production will be sufficient to meet expected demand and export levels at a lower price than previously forecasted, EIA lowered its Henry Hub spot price forecast for 2020 to an average of $2.55/MMBtu, 20 cents/MMBtu lower than the August forecast.
  • EIA forecasts that U.S. dry natural gas production will average 91.4 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2019, up 8.0 Bcf/d from 2018. EIA expects monthly average natural gas production to grow in late 2019 and then decline slightly during the first quarter of 2020 as the lagged effect of low prices in the second half of 2019 reduces natural gas-directed drilling. However, EIA forecasts that growth will resume in the second quarter of 2020, and natural gas production in 2020 will average 93.2 Bcf/d.
  • Natural gas storage injections have outpaced the five-year (2014–18) average so far during the 2019 injection season as a result of rising natural gas production. At the beginning of April, the natural gas inventory injection season started with working inventories 28% lower than the five-year average for the same period. By the week ending August 30, working gas inventories were 82 billion cubic feet (Bcf), or 3%, lower than the five-year average of 3,023 Bcf. EIA forecasts that natural gas storage levels will be 3,769 Bcf by the end of October, which is slightly higher than the five-year average and 16% higher than October 2018 levels.

U.S. natural gas prices

Electricity, coal, renewables, and emissions
  • EIA expects the share of U.S. total utility-scale electricity generation from natural gas-fired power plants will rise from 34% in 2018 to 37% in 2019 and 38% in 2020. EIA forecasts that the share of U.S. generation from coal will average 25% in 2019 and 22% in 2020, down from 28% in 2018. EIA’s forecast nuclear share of U.S. generation remains at about 20% in 2019 and in 2020. Hydropower averages a 7% share of total U.S. generation in the forecast for 2019 and 2020, similar to 2018. Wind, solar, and other nonhydropower renewables together provided 10% of U.S. total utility-scale generation in 2018. EIA expects they will provide 10% in 2019 and 12% in 2020.
  • EIA forecasts generally lower wholesale electricity prices in 2019 compared with 2018. The lower forecast prices reflect lower natural gas fuel costs. The first half of 2019, the average U.S. cost of natural gas delivered to power generators was 9% lower than the same period in 2018. EIA expects the delivered cost of natural gas during the second half of 2019 to be 31% lower than last year. Forecast electricity prices in the southeast are less than 1% lower than in 2018, while prices in New England are 28% lower.
  • EIA forecasts that U.S. coal production in the second half of 2019 will be 328 million short tons (MMst), or 59 MMst (15%) less than in the second half of 2018. EIA expects that coal exports will continue to fall during the projection period as international demand for U.S. coal is dampened by high Atlantic freight costs in the near term and increased uncertainty in the metallurgical coal market in the longer term. EIA forecasts that U.S. coal consumption will total 593 MMst in 2019 and 548 MMst in 2020, a decline of 14% in 2019 and 8% in 2020.
  • EIA forecasts that utility-scale renewable fuels, including wind, solar, and hydropower, will collectively produce 18% of U.S. electricity in 2019 and 19% in 2020. EIA expects that annual generation from wind will surpass hydropower generation for the first time in 2019 to become the leading source of renewable electricity generation and that it will maintain that position in 2020.
  • EIA expects electric power sector generation from renewables other than hydropower—principally wind and solar—to grow from 409 billion kilowatthours (kWh) in 2019 to 467 billion kWh in 2020. In EIA’s forecast, Texas accounts for 19% of the U.S. nonhydro renewables generation in 2019 and 21% in 2020. California has a share of 15% in 2019 and 14% in 2020. Regionally, the Midwest and Central power regions each have shares in the 16% to 17% range of the U.S. generation total from renewables other than hydropower.
  • EIA forecasts that, after rising by 2.7% in 2018, U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will decline by 2.5% in 2019 and by 1.0% in 2020. In 2019, EIA forecasts that space cooling demand (as measured in cooling degree days) will be lower than in 2018 when it was 13% higher than the previous 10-year (2008–17) average. In addition, EIA expects U.S. CO2 emissions in 2019 to decline because the forecast share of electricity generated from natural gas and renewables is increasing while the forecast share generated from coal, which is a more carbon-intensive energy source, is decreasing.

U.S. residential electricity price

electricity coal renewable emissions natural gas STEO EIA liquid fuels USA
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EIA projects less than a quarter of the world’s electricity generated from coal by 2050

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) International Energy Outlook 2019 (IEO2019), global electric power generation from renewable sources will increase more than 20% throughout the projection period (2018–2050), providing almost half of the world’s electricity generation in 2050. In that same period, global coal-fired generation will decrease 13%, representing only 22% of the generation mix in 2050. EIA projects that worldwide electricity generation will grow by 1.8% per year through 2050.

EIA projects that total world electricity generation will reach nearly 45 trillion kilowatthours (kWh) by 2050, almost 20 trillion kWh more than the 2018 level. Although growth occurs in both OECD and non-OECD regions, the growth in electricity demand in non-OECD regions far outpaces those in OECD regions. Even though electricity demand growth contributes to a region’s fuel share of generation, the scale and scope of that region’s policies provide different incentives and play an important role as well.

Throughout the projection period, some regions have high electricity demand growth, some have aggressive emission reduction policies, and some have relatively little change in both. Varying demand growth and policies across regions lead to different distribution of fuel shares for electricity generation within each region. However, the power sector’s share of generation from renewables tends to increase and the share of coal tends to decrease.

High electricity demand growth

net electricity generation by fuel, India

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, International Energy Outlook 2019

India has the most rapid regional electricity demand growth (4.6% per year) in the IEO2019 Reference case. Although India has developed target levels for solar and wind capacity, it does not have an aggressive emissions reduction policy in place, so EIA projects coal-fired generation growth in addition to growth in solar and wind generation. Combined, solar, wind, and coal will account for 90% of India's electricity generation mix in 2050. Combined wind and solar generation increases from less than 10% of India's generation mix in 2018 to more than 50% of the generation mix in 2050. The level of coal-fired generation increases during that same time period, but coal’s share of India's electricity generation mix falls from about 75% of the mix in 2018 to less than 40% in 2050.

Aggressive emissions reductions policy

net electricity generation by fuel, OECD Europe

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, International Energy Outlook 2019
Note: OECD is the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. International Energy Outlook regional definitions.

New capacity additions for renewable technologies are economically competitive with fossil technologies worldwide. But without policy incentives, growth in generation from renewable sources is limited in regions with slow demand growth. OECD Europe electricity demand is projected to grow at about 1% per year through 2050; however, EIA expects that a regional carbon dioxide cap will contribute to a reduction in fossil-fired generation and an increase in renewables generation to meet demand. Throughout the projection period, EIA expects that the share of wind and solar generation in OECD Europe will increase from 20% to almost 50% by 2050. In that same period, EIA projects that fossil-fired generation will decrease from about 37% to 18% of the generation mix. By 2050, coal-fired generation comprises only 5% of the region’s generation mix.

Low electricity demand growth/No emissions reductions policies

net electricity generation by fuel, other non-OECD Europe and Eurasia

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, International Energy Outlook 2019
Note: International Energy Outlook regional definitions.

With annual demand growth slower than 1% and no firm policies aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions, the mix of generation resources in the non-OECD Europe and Eurasia region (which excludes Russia) will change only marginally. Through 2050, wind and solar generation increases marginally and accounts for less than 10% of the generation mix in 2050, leaving hydroelectric power as the main source of renewables generation for this region. Growth in natural gas generation will displace some coal-fired generation—which falls from 31% in 2018 to 15% in 2050—but the overall share of fossil generation will change relatively little throughout the projection period.

January, 23 2020
EIA expects U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions to decrease annually through 2021

In its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), released on January 14, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts year-over-year decreases in energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions through 2021. After decreasing by 2.1% in 2019, energy-related CO2 emissions will decrease by 2.0% in 2020 and again by 1.5% in 2021 for a third consecutive year of declines.

These declines come after an increase in 2018 when weather-related factors caused energy-related CO2 emissions to rise by 2.9%. If this forecast holds, energy-related CO2 emissions will have declined in 7 of the 10 years from 2012 to 2021. With the forecast declines, the 2021 level of fewer than 5 billion metric tons would be the first time emissions have been at that level since 1991.

After a slight decline in 2019, EIA expects petroleum-related CO2 emissions to be flat in 2020 and decline slightly in 2021. The transportation sector uses more than two-thirds of total U.S. petroleum consumption. Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) grow nearly 1% annually during the forecast period. In the short term, increases in VMT are largely offset by increases in vehicle efficiency.

Winter temperatures in New England, which were colder than normal in 2019, led to increased petroleum consumption for heating. New England uses more petroleum as a heating fuel than other parts of the United States. EIA expects winter temperatures will revert to normal, contributing to a flattening in overall petroleum demand.

Natural gas-related CO2 increased by 4.2% in 2019, and EIA expects that it will rise by 1.4% in 2020. However, EIA expects a 1.7% decline in natural gas-related CO2 in 2021 because of warmer winter weather and less demand for natural gas for heating.

Changes in the relative prices of coal and natural gas can cause fuel switching in the electric power sector. Small price changes can yield relatively large shifts in generation shares between coal and natural gas. EIA expects coal-related CO2 will decline by 10.8% in 2020 after declining by 12.7% in 2019 because of low natural gas prices. EIA expects the rate of coal-related CO2 to decline to be less in 2021 at 2.7%.

The declines in CO2 emissions are driven by two factors that continue from recent historical trends. EIA expects that less carbon-intensive and more efficient natural gas-fired generation will replace coal-fired generation and that generation from renewable energy—especially wind and solar—will increase.

As total generation declines during the forecast period, increases in renewable generation decrease the share of fossil-fueled generation. EIA estimates that coal and natural gas electric generation combined, which had a 63% share of generation in 2018, fell to 62% in 2019 and will drop to 59% in 2020 and 58% in 2021.

Coal-fired generation alone has fallen from 28% in 2018 to 24% in 2019 and will fall further to 21% in 2020 and 2021. The natural gas-fired generation share rises from 37% in 2019 to 38% in 2020, but it declines to 37% in 2021. In general, when the share of natural gas increases relative to coal, the carbon intensity of the electricity supply decreases. Increasing the share of renewable generation further decreases the carbon intensity.

U.S. annual carbon emissions by source

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook, January 2020
Note: CO2 is carbon dioxide.

January, 21 2020
Latest issue of GEO ExPro magazine covers Europe and Frontier Exploration, Modelling and Mapping, and Geochemistry.

GEO ExPro Vol. 16, No. 6 was published on 9th December 2019 bringing light to the latest science and technology activity in the global geoscience community within the oil, gas and energy sector.

This issue focusses on oil and gas exploration in frontier regions within Europe, with stories and articles discussing new modelling and mapping technologies available to the industry. This issue also presents several articles discussing the discipline of geochemistry and how it can be used to further enhance hydrocarbon exploration.

You can download the PDF of GEO ExPro magazine for FREE and sign up to GEO ExPro’s weekly updates and online exclusives to receive the latest articles direct to your inbox.

Download GEO ExPro Vol. 16, No. 6

January, 20 2020