Domestic liquefied natural gas (LNG) export capacity will nearly double in 2019, increasing from 3.6 Bcf/d at the beginning of the year to about 7 Bcf/d by the end of the year, according to FERC's Summer 2019 Reliability and Energy Market Assessment.
"Although 1.4 Bcf/d of export capacity began service in March, most of the expected capacity for 2019 is forecast to come online in the second half of the year, beginning in July," according to the report, which was released Thursday by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's offices of Electric Reliability and Enforcement.
Additional LNG export capacity is expected to come from facilities including Sempra Energy's Cameron LNG in Louisiana, Kinder Morgan's Elba Island liquefaction in Georgia, and Cheniere Energy Inc.'s Corpus Christi LNG export facility in Texas.
"LNG exports have been the fastest growing natural gas demand sector in the U.S. since 2016, averaging nearly 3 Bcf/d in 2018," according to the report. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) has estimated LNG gross exports to average 5.4 Bcf/d between June and August this year, which would result in a 2.5 Bcf/d (88%) increase compared with last summer's average LNG export volume.
Higher-than-average temperatures are expected across much of the United States this summer, but reserve margins, boosted by a flood of domestic natural gas production, are likely to be adequate in all regions except the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).
Despite the relatively higher temperatures, the net demand for electricity is forecast to decrease by 0.3% this summer compared to summer 2018, due to reductions associated with greater energy efficiency and behind-the-meter systems, according to the report.
A total of 6.7 GW of generating capacity is scheduled to enter commercial operations this summer, most of it coming from gas-fired, solar and wind resources. At the same time, more than 2.6 GW of coal-fired generation is scheduled to retire, including 0.8 GW in the PJM footprint.
"The ongoing trend of nuclear and coal generation retirements, combined with natural gas generation additions, will continue into the summer. The increasing dependence on natural gas is reflected in the relatively high percentage of natural gas-fired capacity in all regions," FERC said. Natural gas is forecast to make up the largest share of the fuel mix in ERCOT (56%) and NY-ISO (55%).
FERC expects natural gas storage inventories to return to average levels this summer. Inventories began the injection season this spring at 1,107 Bcf, which was 533 Bcf below the five-year average.
"Despite record withdrawals during extreme cold events in January, the most recent winter season saw total withdrawals of 2,140 Bcf, a 14% decrease in overall withdrawals compared to the previous year and roughly equal to the average withdrawal level over the past five years," FERC said.
EIA on Thursday reported a 106 Bcf weekly injection into U.S. natural gas stocks for the week ended May 10, bringing gas in storage to 1,653 Bcf, compared with the five-year average of 1,939 Bcf.