The United States consumes more natural gas than it produces. Although most of the natural gas consumed in the United States is produced domestically, the United States imports natural gas from other countries and is a net importer of natural gas, meaning that it imports more natural gas than it exports.
U.S. reliance on natural gas imports has declined in recent years because of an increase in U.S. natural gas production resulting from more efficient, cost-effective drilling and production techniques notably from shale, sandstone, and carbonate geologic formations. Net imports (imports minus exports) of natural gas accounted for 4% of U.S. natural gas consumption in 2014, compared to the highest level of 16% in 2001, 2005, and 2007.
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Natural gas is transported on specially designed ships as liquefied natural gas (LNG). LNG is natural gas that is cooled to -260°F at which point the gas becomes a liquid. The volume of the liquid is 600 times smaller than the gaseous form.
Most natural gas is imported and exported by pipeline as a gas and by ship as liquefied natural gas (LNG). Small amounts of natural gas are also exported on trucks as LNG and as compressed natural gas (CNG).
In 2014, 96% of U.S. net imports of natural gas came by pipeline, and 4% came in LNG ships from around the world.
Pipeline imports of natural gas are mostly from Canada
In 2014, net pipeline imports of natural gas totaled 1,143 billion cubic feet, or 4% of total natural gas consumption. The United States received nearly all of its pipeline-imported natural gas from Canada and received a small amount from Mexico.
LNG imports are a small share of total U.S. natural gas imports and consumption
In 2014, net imports of LNG totaled about 43 billion cubic feet, equal to less than 1% of total U.S. natural gas consumption. About 72% of the LNG imports were from Trinidad and Tobago, 14% were from Yemen, 9% were from Norway, and the remaining LNG imports came from other countries.
Most U.S. natural gas exports go to Canada and Mexico by pipeline
U.S. exports of natural gas peaked in 2012, largely because of expanded pipeline exports to Canada and Mexico. In 2014, Canada received 52% of U.S. pipeline natural gas exports, and Mexico received 48%. U.S. exports of natural gas include domestically produced natural gas shipped to other countries as LNG and CNG. U.S. exports of natural gas also include LNG originally imported to the United States that is re-exported to new destinations. In 2014, U.S. exports of LNG and CNG accounted for about 1% of total U.S. exports of natural gas.