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Proved natural gas reserves set records, likely to push more coal-fired retirements, EIA says

Proved reserves of U.S. natural gas reached a new all-time high in 2018, according to a new report from the Energy Information Administration.

The EIA’s new data on both oil and gas reserves showed marked increases and a key factor pushing the U.S. to become a net energy exporter in coming years. Companies already are building liquefied natural gas (LNG)  export terminals along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts.

Proved reserves of natural gas increased nine percent to 504.5 trillion cubic feet (TCF) at the end of last year. The gas reserves from shale plays increased to 68 percent of the year-end total for all proved natural gas reserves, according to the EIA.

Texas was the biggest state in gas production, thanks to development of the Wolfcamp/Bone Spring shale play. The state’s producers added 22.9 TC of proved gas reserves.

Lower prices and historic production levels have pushed natural gas to become the top resource for U.S. electricity generation, topping coal. Gas accounts for close to 35 percent of the U.S. portfolio.

In fact, EIA expects more coal-fired generation plants to retire due to the pricing of gas and installation of more advanced natural gas combined-cycle generators. Nearly 90 GW of coal-fired capacity is expected to be retired between this year and 2030, according to the EIA.

The EIA data indicated that crude oil proved reserves jumped even higher, some 12 percent to 43.8 billion barrels at the end of 2018. This eclipsed the record set only one year earlier at 39.2 billion barrels.

U.S. LNG ventures are finding customers in Africa, Asia, South America and Europe, according to reports. Domestic shale gas could be fueling global power generation in coming years.

(Rod Walton is content director for Power Engineering and POWERGEN International. He can be reached at [email protected] and 918-831-9177).