Although most of the natural gas consumed in the United States is produced domestically, the United States is a net importer of natural gas, meaning that it imports more natural gas than it exports.
The United States has relied less on natural gas imports in recent years, mainly because of increases in U.S. natural gas production. U.S. net imports of natural gas peaked in 2007. In 2016, the United States imported about 3 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas and exported about 2.3 Tcf, resulting in net imports of about 0.7 Tcf.1 In 2016, net imports (imports minus exports) of natural gas were equal to about 3% of U.S. natural gas consumption.
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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°Fahrenheit at which point the gas becomes a liquid. The volume of the liquid is 600 times smaller than the gaseous form.
Most natural gas imports and exports are 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 2016, 97% of U.S. net imports of natural gas came by pipeline, and 3% came in LNG ships from around the world. A small amount came as compressed natural gas (CNG) from Canada.
Pipeline imports of natural gas are mostly from Canada
In 2016, nearly all of U.S. pipeline imports of natural gas were from Canada. Less than 1% of natural gas pipeline imports were from Mexico.
LNG imports are a small share of total U.S. natural gas imports and consumption
In 2016, imports of LNG totaled about 0.09 Tcf. About 95% of the LNG imports were from Trinidad and Tobago, 4% were from Norway, and 1% were from Canada.
Most U.S. natural gas exports go to Canada and Mexico by pipeline
U.S. exports of natural gas reached a record high in 2016. In 2016, pipeline exports accounted for 92% of U.S. natural gas exports. Canada received 36% of U.S. pipeline natural gas exports, and Mexico received 64%.
The United States also exports LNG and CNG. In 2016, U.S. exports of LNG and CNG accounted for about 8% of total U.S. exports of natural gas.1 Preliminary data for 2016.