U.S. Natural Gas Imports Fall For Third Straight Year

May 2011, Vol. 238 No. 5

Net imports of natural gas have fallen for three consecutive years, due largely to growing domestic production from shale gas formations, reports the federal Energy Information Administration. Between 2007-2010 annual net imports fell by about 1.2 Tcf or nearly one-third.

Net imports by pipeline account for over 80% of total net imports and come entirely from Canada (the U.S. is a net exporter to Mexico). Net pipeline imports fell by 28%. Net imports in the form of LNG were down nearly 50%.

The import share of total U.S. natural gas consumption rose from less than 5% in 1986 to over 16% in 2001. While net natural gas imports for 2010 were down only slightly compared to 2009, they accounted for less than 11% of total U.S. natural gas consumption, the lowest since 1992.

The decline in LNG net imports occurred despite commissioning of additional regasification terminals. Three onshore regasification terminals in the U.S. now have licenses to re-export LNG (redeliver LNG that was off-loaded into a regasification terminal): Cameron, LA, Freeport, and Sabine Pass, TX.

U.S. shale gas production more than tripled between 2007-2010 and its share of total domestic natural gas consumption rose from 5% to over 20%.

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