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U.S. natural gas exports reached a record high in 2017, and the United States became a net exporter of natural gas.

Although most of the natural gas consumed in the United States is produced in the United States, the United States imports some natural gas to help supply domestic demand. The United States also exports natural gas. 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 imported and exported by trucks as LNG and as compressed natural gas (CNG).

Most of U.S. natural gas imports are from Canada

In 2017, about 97% of U.S. total annual natural gas imports were from Canada and nearly all by pipelines. A small amount of compressed natural gas (CNG) came by truck from Canada—less than 0.1% of total imports. About 3% of total natural gas imports came as LNG, 90% of which were from Trinidad and Tobago. U.S. natural gas imports are generally highest in winter when imports help meet increases in natural gas demand for heating.

Natural gas imports are declining

Total annual imports of natural gas generally declined since 2007, mainly because increases in U.S. natural gas production have reduced the need for imports. Total annual imports peaked in 2007 at about 5 trillion cubic feet (Tcf). In 2017, total annual imports were 3.04 Tcf.

Natural gas exports are increasing

Up until the year 2000, the United States exported relatively small volumes of natural gas and mostly by pipeline to Mexico and Canada. Total annual exports have generally increased each year since 2000 as increases in U.S. natural gas production contributed to lower natural gas prices and the competitiveness of U.S. natural gas in international markets.

In 2017, total annual natural gas exports were 3.17 Tcf—the highest on record, exports were larger than imports for the first time in 60 years, and the United States became a net exporter of natural gas.

Most—78%—of the total natural gas exports in 2017 were by pipeline, 63% of which went to Mexico. Exports of LNG increased substantially in 2016 and 2017, coinciding with a nearly five-fold increase in export capacity since 2015. The United States exported natural gas to 28 countries in 2017.