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 2020, about 98% of U.S. total annual natural gas imports were from Canada and nearly all by pipelines. A small amount of CNG came by truck from Canada—0.01% of total natural gas imports. About 2% of total U.S. natural gas imports came as LNG, of which 80% 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.
In 2020, U.S. natural gas exports reached a record high, and the United States was a net exporter of natural gas for the fourth year in a row.
Natural gas imports peaked in 2007
Total annual natural gas imports in 2007 at about 4.61 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) (12.62 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d)) and have generally declined each year since then. Increases in U.S. natural gas production have helped to reduce the need for imports. In 2020, total annual U.S. natural gas imports were 2.55 Tcf (6.97 Bcf/d), the lowest annual amount since 1993.
Natural gas exports reached a record high in 2020
Until 2000, the United States exported relatively small volumes of natural gas and mostly by pipeline to Mexico and Canada. Total annual exports generally increased each year from 2000 through 2020 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. Expansion of the natural gas pipeline network, notably in the Permian basin area of Texas, enabled an increase in the capture of associated natural gas from oil wells and contributed to increases in natural gas exports to Mexico. In 2020, the United States exported natural gas to about 32 countries.
In 2020, total annual U.S. natural gas exports were 5.28 Tcf—the highest on record, and the United States was a net exporter of natural gas for the fourth year in a row.
About 55% of the total U.S. natural gas exports in 2020 were by pipeline, of which 69% went to Mexico and 31% went to Canada. Exports of LNG increased substantially each year from 2015 through 2020, coinciding with large increases in export capacity.
Last updated: July 12, 2021