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An Unstoppable Natural Gas Rally

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Irina Slav

Irina Slav

Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.

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U.S. Energy Consumption Hits All-Time Record

Energy consumption in the United States reached an all-time high last year, data from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory showed.

According to the laboratory, the United States consumed 101.2 quadrillion British thermal units of energy, or quads, last year, up on the previous record of 101 quads, reached in 2007. Yet the 2018 figure also represents the highest annual increase since 2010, at 3.6 percent.

The figures reflect a similar surge in energy demand globally. In its latest Global Energy  & CO2 Report, the International Energy Agency said last year saw a 2.3-percent jump on the year, which was twice as high as the average demand increase rate for the last decade. This increase was the result of a growing global economy, the authority said, as well as greater heating and cooling needs in some parts of the world.

Energy consumption in the United States was probably the result of the booming economy last year despite worries about a slowdown, signs of which are now popping up in economic data. Wherever the economy goes, however, demand for energy will likely continue strong.

As for the sources of that energy, the U.S. data again reflected the global trend: everybody loves natural gas over oil now. According to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory data, consumption of energy produced from natural gas rose by 3 quads, or 10.7 percent on the year, making it the biggest riser in fossil fuels, but not the biggest in total. The number-one spot belonged to solar energy; its consumption last year jumped by 22 percent. Wind energy consumption added 7.6 percent, while coal consumption continued to fall.

Globally, natural gas was also the leader among sources of primary energy, accounting for as much as 45 percent of the rise in energy demand. This is hardly a surprise given the global shift led by governments towards a cleaner energy industry that will continue to drive changes in the global energy mix. Related: U.S. Doubles Oil Exports In 2018

While the IEA report noted the United States had seen the highest increase in oil and natural gas demand last year, there is one interesting outtake from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory report in this respect. Contrary to expectations, the increase in oil demand did not come from the transport sector, which traditionally leads demand patterns. The biggest increase in oil demand came from the industrial sector, the laboratory said.

Although details about the source of this stronger demand from the industrial sector have yet to be compiled, “it is likely the result of increased manufacturing, petrochemical production and refining of fuel for export,” a researcher from the laboratory noted.

All in all, the United States, as the second-largest energy consumer in the world, reflects the global trends in energy demand and consumption as is only fitting. The rise of natural gas at the expense of coal and to a much lesser extent crude oil—and the equal rise of renewable power generation—is firmly a global trend that will accelerate in the coming years as governments in some parts of the world double down on their emission reduction targets while the U.S. private sector becomes increasingly active in promoting lower-emission energy consumption despite the Trump administration’s dedication to energy dominance across all energy sources.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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