Aug 12 (Reuters) - The U.S. Energy Information Administration on Tuesday raised its estimate for U.S. natural gas production in 2014 to 5.3 percent over 2013's record high levels.
In its August Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), the EIA said it expects marketed natural gas production in 2014 to rise 3.71 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) from 2013 to 73.89 bcfd, up a bit from last month's forecast increase.
That would be the fourth straight annual record as strong increases in Texas and the Marcellus states offset declines in the Gulf of Mexico, EIA said, noting production in 2015 is expected to grow by 2.1 percent over 2014.
EIA also forecast gas consumption in 2014 will rise 1.24 bcfd, or 1.7 percent, from 2013 to 72.57 bcfd, up a bit from last month's forecast increase. Consumption gains were led by the industrial sector, EIA said.
EIA projected working gas inventories will reach 3.46 trillion cubic feet (tcf) at the end of October, up from its 3.43 tcf forecast in July. That is still 0.35 tcf below the level at the end of the injection season last year.
EIA reduced its forecast for gas prices at the Henry Hub, the benchmark supply point in Louisiana, to an average of $4.46 per million British thermal units in 2014 and $4 in 2015, 31 cents and 51 cents lower than last month's STEO, respectively. In 2013, Henry Hub prices averaged $3.73.
Growing domestic production is expected to continue to put downward pressure on gas imports from Canada, and increase exports to Mexico, EIA said, projecting net imports will decline to 3.3 bcfd in 2014 and to 2.6 bcfd in 2015.
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