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U.S. Gulf Coast gasoline crack spreads (the difference between wholesale gasoline prices and crude oil prices that is often used to estimate refining margins) for January 2020 were relatively small compared with the previous five-year (2015–19) average, but they increased in February and as of February 25 are now wider than the five-year average (Figure 1).
The electricity consumed in a given period (often referred to as electricity load) varies throughout the year in somewhat predictable patterns. Total U.S. hourly electricity load is generally highest in the summer months when demand peaks in the afternoon as households and businesses are using air conditioning on hot days. During the winter months, hourly electricity load is less variable but peaks in both the morning and the evening. Load is generally lowest in the spring and autumn when homes and businesses have less need for space heating or cooling.
(Fri, 21 Feb 2020) On February 5, 2020, the Independent System Operator for New England (ISO-NE) announced the results of its 14th annual Forward Capacity Market (FCM) auction. ISO-NE holds the auctions to ensure that the New England power system will have sufficient electricity supply resources to meet the future demand for electricity. In this most recent auction, ISO-NE secured electric generating capacity covering June 1, 2023, through May 31, 2024.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) February Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) forecasts that in 2021, U.S. consumption (as measured by product supplied) of total petroleum and other liquid fuels will average 20.71 million barrels per day (b/d), surpassing the 2007 pre-recession level of 20.68 million b/d.
(Thu, 20 Feb 2020) In the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) February Energy Outlook (STEO), EIA forecasts the Lower 48 working natural gas in storage (stocks) will end the 2019–20 heating season (November 1–March 31) at 1,935 billion cubic feet (Bcf), or 243 Bcf more than the five-year average.
In the February 2020 update of its Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts that global liquid fuels demand will average 101.7 million barrels per day (b/d) in 2020, 1.0 million b/d more than the 2019 average but 378,000 b/d less than was forecast in the January 2020 edition of the STEO.
United States refineries are some of the most complex in the world and can process a wide range of crude oil qualities. Although U.S crude oil production has grown significantly since 2009, having access to imports from oil producers around the world provides refiners with the range of crude oil quality that is optimum for each refinery's configuration, maximizes profitability, and enables the refinery to either supply petroleum products for domestic consumption or export at competitive prices.
This winter, natural gas prices have been at their lowest levels in decades. On Monday, February 10, the near-month natural gas futures price at the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) closed at $1.77 per million British thermal units (MMBtu). This price was the lowest February closing price for the near-month contract since at least 2001, in real terms, and the lowest near-month futures price in any month since March 8, 2016, according to Bloomberg, L.P. and FRED data.
Natural gas consumption in the United States has two seasonal peaks, largely reflecting weather-related fluctuations in energy demand. In the winter months, cold weather leads to more demand for heating in the residential and commercial sectors. In the summer months, warm weather leads to more demand for air conditioning and, in turn, more demand for electricity. Because natural gas continues to account for an increasing share of the fuels used to generate electricity in the United States, natural gas consumption by the electric power sector has increased throughout the year.
In 2018, 138 gigawatts (GW), or 13%, of the total operating electric generating capacity within the United States is made up of generators capable of switching between natural gas and petroleum liquid fuels, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration's (EIA) most recent annual survey of electric generators.
Despite projected growth in natural gas and renewable energy use to generate electricity through 2050, in the Annual Energy Outlook 2020 (AEO2020) Reference case, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that coal and nuclear power plants will collectively provide more than 25% of generation through 2050.
In November 2019, the United States exported 772,000 barrels per day (b/d) more petroleum (crude oil and petroleum products) than it imported, marking the third consecutive month in which the United States was a net petroleum exporter. Although the United States is a net petroleum exporter as a whole, most regions other than the U.S. Gulf Coast region remain net petroleum importers.
As many of the coal-fired power plants in New England and New York have either retired or switched fuels, the regions’ coal-fired electricity generation and coal consumption have fallen to near minimal levels. Additional closures in the coming months will further reduce coal consumption in these regions. In 2007, when coal-fired electricity generation peaked in the United States, coal accounted for 15% of the electricity generated in both New England and New York. Once final data for 2019 are available, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects coal’s share of generation will be less than 1% in each region.

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