Today, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its 2018 Annual Energy Outlook. The report includes projections of U.S. energy markets through 2050 based on a Reference Case,* which takes into account existing laws and policies and assumes they remain unchanged throughout the projection period, as well as six side cases incorporating different assumptions that reflect market, technology, resource, and policy uncertainties affecting energy markets.** The Outlook indicates that strong domestic production of shale, tight oil, and natural gas, paired with relatively flat energy demand, allows the U.S. to become a net energy exporter over the projection period of the Reference Case and four of six side cases. In the Reference Case, the U.S. becomes a net energy exporter in 2022.
The U.S. has been a net energy importer since 1953. Historically and in EIA’s projections, most U.S. energy trade is in crude oil and petroleum products. In the Reference Case, U.S. imports of crude oil and petroleum imports will decline (although the U.S. will remain a net importer of crude oil and petroleum) and exports of liquefied natural gas will grow.
Other key findings with respect to the Reference Case include:
- Increases in energy efficiency temper growth in energy demand throughout the projection period.
- Almost all new electricity generation capacity is fueled by natural gas and non-hydroelectric renewables after 2022. Natural gas consumption is projected to grow the most on an absolute basis, while renewables consumption is projected to grow the most on a percentage basis.
- Production of shale gas resources, as well as crude oil and petroleum products, is projected to increase through most of the Reference Case projection period, but will start to decline toward the end of the projection period as less productive areas are developed.
* The Reference Case does not include implementation of the Clean Power Plan, though it does consider how a number of current state and regional policies—including the Illinois Future Energy Jobs Act, the New York Clean Energy Standard, the Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act, and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative—affect the projected electric generation mix.
** The side cases include a High Oil Price Case and Low Oil Price Case, a High Economic Growth Case and Low Economic Growth Case, as well as a High Oil and Gas Resource and Technology Case (assumes high resource availability and low cost of production) and a Low Oil and Gas Resource and Technology Case (assumes low resource availability and high production costs).