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Natural gas plant liquids persevere in 2020

February 22, 2021 By     0 Comments

U.S. natural gas plant liquids (NGPLs) – including LP gases, ethane and natural gasoline – bucked the trend of overall fossil fuel production declines in 2020 and increased their production by 7 percent in a year marked by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Oil and gas worker photo: Hoptocopter/E+/Getty Images

U.S. natural gas plant liquids bucked the trend of overall fossil fuel production declines in 2020 and increased their production by 7 percent. (Photo: Hoptocopter/E+/Getty Images)

Newly commissioned, more efficient natural gas processing plants supported growth in NGPL production, even though natural gas production declined, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

EIA expects domestic NGPL production to increase by 2 percent in 2021 and by 7 percent in 2022 – mostly due to ethane production growth.

Propane production at natural gas plants is expected to decline by 80,000 barrels per day (bpd) from 2020 to 1.6 million bpd in 2021 and increase by 60,000 bpd in 2022.

In 2020, fossil fuel production in the U.S. declined by an estimated 6 percent from the 2019 record high of 81.3 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu), EIA reports.

EIA expects total production of fossil fuels in the U.S. to remain flat in 2021 as increased coal production offsets more declines in natural gas production. EIA expects production of all fossil fuels – crude oil, coal, dry natural gas and NGPLs – to increase in 2022, but forecast fossil fuel production will remain lower than the 2019 peak.

On a heat-content basis, dry natural gas accounted for the largest share of fossil fuel production in 2020, at 46 percent. Crude oil accounted for 31 percent, coal 14 percent and NGPLs 9 percent.

About the Author:

Brian Richesson is the editor in chief of LP Gas Magazine. Contact him at brichesson@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3748.

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