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EIA Eyes April Release of Analysis of Senate Climate Change Bill

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) is expected to release during the first week of April its analysis of Senate legislation that seeks to significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, EIA Administrator Guy Caruso said last Tuesday.

"We're about to complete our analysis" of the measure sponsored by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and John Warner (R-VA), which "will change alot of the projections" in EIA's revised Annual Energy Outlook (AEO), he told energy executives and regulators at the Natural Gas Roundtable in Washington, DC.

The revised AEO, which the EIA released earlier this month, took into account provisions that were enacted under the energy bill that Congress passed in December (see NGI, March 10). It projected that natural gas demand will rise by only about 1 Tcf to 22.7 Tcf through 2030, that gas prices will retreat to $6/Mcf in 2016 and then increase slightly to $6.45/Mcf in 2030, that gas will lose a significant share of the power generation market, and that coal will be the "big winner" in terms of picking up new generation capacity.

The Lieberman-Warner legislation, which the Senate is expected to take up in June, seeks to reduce U.S. GHG emissions by as much as 19% below the 2005 level in 2020 and by as much as 63% below the 2005 level in 2050 (see NGI, Feb. 25).

Caruso acknowledge the shortfalls of EIA's projections. The last time he appeared before the roundtable in 2003, he said he projected that natural gas demand would rise to 35 Tcf in 2030. This has since been revised downward to 23 Tcf. "Prices have clearly made a big difference."

Caruso also recognized the "limitations of the mathematical models" that EIA uses in making its projections. "There have been plenty of examples where while long-term projections look benign, there are logistical issues and other operational issues that the models don't capture," he noted.

In addition to the analysis of the Lieberman-Warner bill, Caruso said the agency plans to release by the end of April an analysis of U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) demand based on changes in prices and government policies. "You [will] see a huge swing in the demand for LNG" when various changes are taken into account, he noted.

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