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 2018, about 97% 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—less than 0.1% of total imports. About 3% of total U.S. natural gas imports came as LNG, 86% 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.
In 2018, U.S. natural gas exports reached a record high, and the United States was a net exporter of natural gas for the second year in a row.
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 2018, total annual U.S. natural gas imports were 2.91 Tcf.
Natural gas exports are increasing
Until 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 2018, the United States exported natural gas to 33 countries.
In 2018, total annual U.S. natural gas exports were 3.61 Tcf—the highest on record, and the United States was a net exporter of natural gas for the second year in a row.
Most—70%—of the total U.S. natural gas exports in 2018 were by pipeline, 67% of which went to Mexico. Exports of LNG increased substantially in 2016, 2017, and 2018, coinciding with large increases in export capacity since 2015.
Last updated: April 30, 2019