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US natural gas net imports value dramatically declines

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), natural gas trade flows are much lower than trade flows associated with crude oil and petroleum products, in terms of both monetary value and energy content.

The value of US natural gas trade flows has experienced large percentage declines in recent years, because both the price and net volume of natural gas imports has been declining for several years.

Current domestic natural gas prices reflect the balance between supply and demand for natural gas in North America, which is dominated by production and consumption trends. Natural gas prices in North America have ranged substantially below those in Asia and Europe for several years, which has encouraged plans for the development of capacity to produce LNG for shipments to overseas markets.

Meanwhile, the value of US natural gas imports via pipeline has reached its lowest level since 1995 in 2012. Net pipeline import volumes were 7% lower in 2013 than in 2012. However, because natural gas prices have increased relative to their 2012 low point, the value of net natural gas imports via pipelines rose in 2013.

Accounting for the 34% decrease in the dollar value of US LNG imports between 2012 and 2013 however, the dollar value of natural gas net imports in 2013 actually declined 14% compared to 2012.

The decline in value of net imports of natural gas is also noteworthy, given that the volume of US natural gas consumption has been increasing since 2005, in contrast to the consumption of oil, which has been flat or declining since the middle of the past decade.

Given this, the Reference case projections in EIA’s 2014 Annual Energy Outlook show the US becoming a net exporter of natural gas in both value and volume terms later this decade.

Adapted from a press release by Emma McAleavey.

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