U.S. Reduces 2013 Natural Gas Production Forecast by 0.4%

The U.S. lowered its forecast for natural gas output in 2013 by 0.4 percent and raised its outlook for prices.

Marketed gas production will average a record 69.33 billion cubic feet a day this year, down from 69.6 billion estimated in March, the Energy Information Administration said in its monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook, released today in Washington.

Gas prices at the benchmark Henry Hub in Erath, Louisiana, will average $3.52 per million British thermal units, higher than the previous estimate of $3.41, according to the report from the EIA, the Energy Department’s statistical arm.

“Natural gas spot prices averaged $3.81 per million Btu in March 2013, up nearly 48 cents from the $3.33 per million Btu average seen the previous three months,” the EIA said in the report.

Production in the Gulf of Mexico will average 4.16 billion cubic feet a day, unchanged from the March report.

The forecast for total gas consumption rose to 70.28 billion cubic feet a day from 70.02 billion.

LNG imports will average 450 million cubic feet a day this year, unchanged from the March forecast.

Demand for gas from power plants will average 22.95 billion cubic feet a day this year, lower than the previous estimate of 23.09 billion. Industrial demand will average 19.61 billion, up from 19.4 billion predicted last month.

Gas inventories at the end of October will total 3.793 trillion cubic feet, down 137 billion from the same time last year, according to the report.

Natural gas for May delivery fell 5.9 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $4.023 per million Btu at 12:43 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices have gained 20 percent this year.

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