Due to continuously rising U.S. natural gas production, natural gas prices at the U.S. benchmark Henry Hub averaged US$2.57 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) in 2019—the lowest annual average price since 2016, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Thursday.
The average natural gas price last year was US$0.60 lower than the average Henry Hub price in 2018.
Monthly average prices at the key U.S. regional trading hubs hit their highest in February 2019, due to the winter season, and then they were relatively stable and low from April to December, the EIA has estimated.
New pipelines to carry the growing volumes of natural gas out of the Permian partially eased the takeaway capacity constraints and pushed natural gas prices at the Waha hub in Texas higher in the latter part of the year, after six months in a row of average monthly prices lower than US$1/MMBtu—March through August.
In early April 2019, prices at the Waha hub plummeted to record low negative levels, as pipeline constraints and problems at compressor stations at one pipeline stranded gas produced in the Permian.
Across the U.S., lower natural gas prices spurred increased domestic natural gas consumption, especially in the electricity generation sector, as well as higher natural gas exports out of the U.S., setting a new liquefied natural gas (LNG) export record, the EIA said.
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As several new LNG export facilities came online in 2019, U.S. LNG exports averaged an estimated 5.0 Bcf/d last year, surging by 69 percent annually, setting a new LNG export record, and making the United States the third-largest global LNG exporter, the EIA notes.
The United States saw its net natural gas exports in the first half of 2019 more than double from the same period of 2018, thanks to more LNG export capacity coming online in recent months, the EIA said in October.
The United States will be the global leader in newly-built LNG liquefaction capacity between 2019 and 2023, data and analytics company GlobalData said earlier in October 2019.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.