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).
In 2021, U.S. natural gas exports reached a record high, and the United States was a net exporter of natural gas for the fifth year in a row.
Natural gas imports peaked in 2007
Total U.S. annual natural gas imports in 2007 reached about 4.61 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) (12.62 billion cubic feet per day [Bcf/d]) and have generally declined each year since then. In 2021, total annual U.S. natural gas imports were about 2.81 Tcf (7.29 Bcf/d).
Most of U.S. natural gas imports are from Canada
In 2021, about 99% of U.S. total annual natural gas imports were from Canada and nearly all by pipeline. A small amount of CNG came by truck from Canada—0.01% of total natural gas imports. About 1% of total U.S. natural gas imports came as LNG, of which 99% 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 exports reached a record high in 2021
Until 2000, the United States exported relatively small volumes of natural gas and mostly by pipeline to Mexico and Canada. Total U.S. annual natural gas exports generally increased each year from 2000 through 2021 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, which helped to increase total production in 2021 and contributed to increases in U.S. natural gas exports. In 2021, the United States exported natural gas to 39 countries.
In 2021, total annual U.S. natural gas exports were 6.65 Tcf—the highest on record, and the United States has been an annual net exporter of natural gas since 2017.
About 46% of the total U.S. natural gas exports in 2021 were by pipeline, of which 70% went to Mexico and 30% went to Canada. Exports of LNG increased substantially each year from 2015 through 2021, coinciding with large increases in export capacity. 2021 was the first year that U.S. LNG exports exceeded pipeline exports of natural gas since 1990.
Increases in U.S. natural gas production have helped to reduce the need for imports
U.S. natural gas production exceeded domestic consumption in 2017 through 2021, which contributed to lower imports, increased exports, and to the U.S. being a natural gas net exporter in 2017 through 2021. While increases in production have helped to reduce the need for imports in recent years, imports by pipeline from Canada and LNG imports at the LNG terminal in Everett, Massachusetts, are important sources of U.S. natural gas supply during the winter months.
Last updated: December 16, 2022, with the most recent data available at the time of update.