Natural Gas

‹ See All Natural Gas Reports

U.S. Natural Gas Imports & Exports 2013

With data for 2013  |  Release date: May 28, 2014  |  Next Release Date: May 28, 2015     Print

Previous Reports

Summary

U.S. net imports of natural gas into the United States fell 14% in 2013, continuing a decline that began in 2007. Robust natural gas production in the United States likely displaced imports, which decreased by 8% in 2013 to 2,883 Bcf. Based on preliminary data for 2013, domestic dry natural gas production increased by 1% to 24,282 billion cubic feet (Bcf), a new record. Abundant production of natural gas helped reduce U.S. reliance on foreign natural gas and helped maintain a high price differential between domestic and foreign markets outside of North America, increasing interest in the potential export of U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG).


Overview

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on Office of Fossil Energy, U.S. Department of Energy.

Net imports

Natural gas net imports fell by 14% to 1,311 Bcf in 2013, the lowest level since 1989.

  • Total imports decreased by 8% to 2,883 Bcf in 2013 from the previous year’s level. Pipeline imports decreased by 6% to 2,786 Bcf, and LNG imports decreased by 45% to 97 Bcf.
  • Total exports, which increased in all but two years from 1997 to 2012, decreased by 3% to 1,572 Bcf in 2013. Pipeline exports decreased by 1% to 1,569 Bcf, while LNG exports, already lower than 2% of total exports, decreased to 3 Bcf. For the first time, the United States exported a small amount of compressed natural gas (CNG) to Canada by truck, totaling 0.1 Bcf.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on Office of Fossil Energy, U.S. Department of Energy.

Prices

In 2013, U.S. natural gas import and export prices increased by 33% and 25% from the previous year’s levels to $3.83 per Mcf and $4.06 per Mcf, respectively. Because transactions largely involve trade isolated to North America, the price increases likely reflect the significant increases in prices seen in the United States in 2013, which was a transition from the notably warmer winter weather, abundant production, and low prices in 2012.

  • Prices for pipeline imports and pipeline exports typically follow domestic natural gas prices, such as those at the Henry Hub. In 2013, pipeline import and export prices increased by about 32%. The Henry Hub price experienced a similar increase.
  • LNG import prices increased by 59% to $6.80 per Mcf in 2013 from the previous year’s level. The United States imported 75% of its LNG under long-term licenses at an average price of $4.90 per Mcf. Most of remaining LNG imports were acquired on the spot market at an average of $13.87 per Mcf. The United States imported a minimal amount of LNG at Elba Island LNG terminal from Qatar at $3.07 per Mcf under short-term licenses.
  • In 2013, LNG export prices decreased by 22% to $12.10 per Mcf. LNG exports in 2013 only include LNG exports by truck to Mexico and Canada because the Kenai, Alaska LNG terminal, the only operational U.S. LNG export terminal, has been inactive since November 2012. LNG re-exports averaged $13.45 per Mcf in 2013, which was competitive with international LNG prices.

Imports, exports, and re-exports by country


Imports

Natural gas imports decreased by 8% in 2013 to 2,883 Bcf, the lowest level since 1995.

  • Nearly all (97%) of U.S. natural gas imports arrived via pipeline from Canada, which decreased by 6% to 2,785 Bcf in 2013. The United States imported a minimal amount of gas via pipeline from Mexico. Pipeline imports from Canada have decreased almost every year since 2007. In 2013, pipeline imports from Canada into the eastern United States decreased the most, falling 12% from the previous year. Increased natural gas production from the Marcellus shale in the Northeast likely displaced natural gas imports from Canada. In contrast, natural gas imports from Canada in the western part of the United States remained relatively stable compared with levels in previous years.
  • LNG imports decreased by 45% from the 2012 level to 97 Bcf in 2013, the lowest level since 1998. Even though U.S. natural gas prices increased in 2013, they remained unattractive compared with international LNG prices, which were two to four times higher than Henry Hub prices. LNG imports from Trinidad and Tobago and Yemen made up 83% of total LNG imports. LNG imports were lower from almost all trading partners, particularly from Qatar and Trinidad and Tobago, which decreased by 78% and 38% from the previous year’s level to 7 Bcf and 70 Bcf, respectively.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on Office of Fossil Energy, U.S. Department of Energy.

Exports and re-exports

Total natural gas exports and re-exports decreased by 3% to 1,572 Bcf in 2013.

  • Pipeline exports accounted for nearly all of U.S. total natural gas exports. Pipeline exports to Canada decreased by 6% to 911 Bcf, while pipeline exports to Mexico rose by 6% to 658 Bcf, a record level. Relatively low natural gas prices in the United States and increased natural gas demand in Mexico for power generation and industrial use likely contributed to the pipeline export increases to Mexico. In 2013, two pipeline projects went into service that increased the capacity to export natural gas to Mexico by 551 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d).
  • The United States exported a minimal amount of LNG to Mexico and Canada by truck in 2013.
  • The Kenai LNG export terminal, which began shipping LNG to Japan in 1973 and China in 2011, became inactive in November 2012 because of limited natural gas supply for liquefaction from the mature North Cook Inlet gas field. The industry is building an infrastructure that will enable companies to export LNG from the lower-48 states. As of April 2014, 43 applications had been filed with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which regulates the imports and exports of the natural gas commodity, for authorization to export domestic LNG to foreign countries. Cameron LNG, Dominion Cove Point LNG, Freeport LNG, Jordan Cove Energy Project, Lake Charles Exports, and Sabine Pass Liquefaction are the only companies that have received DOE's approval to export domestic LNG to both Free Trade Agreement and non-Free Trade Agreement countries. These companies also need approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which regulates the construction of facilities for imports and exports, to build LNG export facilities. Sabine Pass is the only company that has received FERC's approval to construct liquefaction facilities in Sabine Pass, Louisiana. This terminal is expected to start service in 2016.
  • LNG re-exports decreased by 86% to about 3 Bcf in 2013. Decreased LNG imports contributed to lower LNG re-exports.
  • In 2013 for the first time The United States shipped 0.1 Bcf of compressed natural gas by truck to Canada.
Graph of import entry points
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on Office of Fossil Energy, U.S. Department of Energy.

Imports by entry point

About 90% of all U.S. natural gas imports were received at six entry points: Port of Morgan, Eastport, Sherwood, Noyes, Sumas, and Waddington, in 2013.

  • Pipeline imports at Port of Morgan, Eastport, Sherwood, Noyes, Sumas, and Waddington accounted for 93% of total pipeline imports from Canada.
  • LNG imports at Everett, Massachusetts, and Elba Island, Georgia, accounted for 82% of total LNG imports in 2013. Everett is the most active entry point for LNG imports in the United States, representing 66% of total LNG imports. Everett's imports came from Trinidad and Tobago (53 Bcf) and Yemen (11 Bcf). Total LNG imports decreased by about 45% in 2013, and LNG imports at Everett decreased by 26% from its 2012 level. Although a large portion of LNG imports at the Everett LNG terminal is dedicated to a neighboring electric generation plant, Everett also continues to be an important supply source to New England during peak winter demand because of existing pipeline constraints into New England.
Graph of export and re-export exit points
Note: LNG exports to Mexico were delivered by truck. Re-exports are shipments of LNG to foreign countries that were previously imported, offloaded into above-ground LNG storage tanks, and then subsequently reloaded onto tankers for delivery to other countries.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on Office of Fossil Energy, U.S. Department of Energy.

Exports and re-exports by exit point

About 63% of all U.S. natural gas exports in 2013 were delivered through four exit points: St. Clair, Niagara Falls, Roma, and Clint.

  • Pipeline exports through St. Clair, Michigan, accounted for about 64% of total exports to Canada, although some of the gas exported at St. Clair likely originated in Canada.
  • Significant growth in natural gas production in Pennsylvania over the past few years has changed the natural gas flow dynamics in the Northeast and in eastern Canada. A major development in the Northeast was the completion of the Northern Access Expansion Project in late 2012 that allowed delivery of gas from Pennsylvania to Canada, crossing the Niagara Falls exit point in western New York. As a result, natural gas exports to Canada at Niagara Falls increased from 23 Bcf in 2012 to 158 Bcf in 2013. The Niagara Falls exit point became the second largest exit point for natural gas exports to Canada in 2013.
  • Pipeline exports through Texas at Roma and Clint represented 38% of total pipeline exports to Mexico, totaling 247 Bcf. In 2013, El Paso Natural Gas completed the Norte Crossing Project, which increased the capacity to export natural gas to Mexico at Clint by 366 MMcf/d.
  • U.S. LNG exports and re-exports decreased to a negligible amount in 2013 because the Kenai LNG terminal became inactive in November 2012 and LNG imports at Cameron, Freeport, and Sabine, the LNG terminals with the authorizations to re-export LNG, also decreased significantly. Between 2010 and 2012, the United States re-exported about 36 Bcf per year, but in 2013 it only re-exported 3 Bcf of LNG, delivered via tanker to Mexico in November.


NOTE: Data as of February 2014 from April 2014 Natural Gas Monthly

See also: Natural Gas Imports and Exports - Quarterly Reports (Office of Fossil Energy, U.S. Department of Energy's Natural Gas Regulatory Program)