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Net imports of natural gas fall

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Last year, US net imports of natural gas fell by 9%, continuing an eight year decline. As US dry natural gas production has reached record highs, lower domestic prices have helped to displace natural gas imports. Net natural gas imports totalled 1.171 billion ft3 in 2014, the lowest level since 1987.

Imports by pipeline from Canada account for nearly 98% of all US natural gas imports, and were the main driver of the decrease in total imports. Net imports from Canada represented 7% of total US natural gas consumption last year, down from 11% in 2009. US natural gas exports also fell last year, but at a slower pace than the decrease in imports, and were still 9% above the previous five year average. Natural gas exports to Mexico, which account for almost 50% of US natural gas exports, increased 12% last year.

Net imports of LNG totalled 43 billion ft3 in 2014, down 54% from the level in 2013 and continuing a five year decline. LNG exports increased from 2013 levels, but not enough to offset a nearly 40% decrease in total LNG imports last year.

Regional trends

Net imports of natural gas have varied significantly around the country. New production from shale and other tight resources has helped to displace imports in some regions. The EIA’s most recent analysis of natural gas imports and exports has highlighted regional trends in natural gas trade.

Inflows of natural gas from Canada were equivalent to 50 – 80% of New York’s natural gas consumption as late as 2008. Last year however, outflows of US produced natural gas through pipelines that crossed into Canada through New York state exceeded inflows of Canadian gas through pipelines into that state, as increased production from the Marcellus region outpaced regional demand.

Pipeline outflows of natural gas crossing into Canada through Michigan and Minnesota exceeded inflows of natural gas, but inflows increased and outflows decreased in2014, likely because of increased demand during the winter months of 2014.

Natural gas exports to Mexico through pipelines crossing the international border in Texas, California and Arizona increased to a record 706 billion ft3 in 2014 to meet increasing demand from new natural gas fuelled power plants in Mexico. Higher production of natural gas from the US Gulf Coast and the Eagle Ford Shale in southern Texas contributed to the increase in exports to Mexico.

Edited from press release by Claira Lloyd

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