Feds say shale gas exports to make history

washington examiner resize-01Washington Examiner | July 13, 2016 | John Siciliano

U.S. frackers are about to change the last 60 years of history by making the U.S. a net natural gas exporter beginning next year, the federal government said Tuesday.

"For the first time since 1957, the United States is on track to export more natural gas than it imports," said Adam Sieminski, the director of the Energy Information Administration, as he released the latest monthly energy forecast. "This will occur during the second half of next year as more liquefied natural gas export capacity comes online."

He said that will occur as the nation's increasingly abundant supply of shale gas feeds domestic and international demand.

"Although U.S. natural gas exports are increasing, there are still abundant supplies to meet domestic demand as natural gas inventories are expected to be at a record high for the start of the upcoming winter heating season," Sieminski said.

The enormous boom in natural gas production is due to the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, that has made the U.S. a top global energy producer in a relatively short period.

Sieminski said the price of natural gas is expected to edge upward slightly over the next year. Although natural gas will continue to dominate as the nation's leading producer of electricity, the higher prices will drive up the use of coal-fired power plants for electricity production in regions of the country where it is more cost competitive.

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