Natural gas imports to the United States have been on the decline since 2007. They have since hit a record low of 2.6 billion cubic feet per day last year. This represents almost a quarter of what import figures have been over the past 8 years, as natural gas is expected to replace coal as the primary provider for electric power in the country. High natural gas production has kept Americans less dependent on foreign imports all the while keeping prices low.
While US consumption and production of natural gas has increased over the past several years, production continues to win the race. Natural gas production reached 80.1 billion cubic feet per day in the beginning of this year but has taken a small decrease as rig counts continue to slide down. On the other side of the coin, US consumption closed out at 75.3 billion cubic feet per day in 2015 is expected to expand to 76.5 billion cubic feet per day in 2016 and 77.4 billion cubic feet per day by 2017.
With the domestic supply of natural gas, the US has become increasingly less dependent on foreign natural gas imports. The US has reached 2.6 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas imports, mainly sourced from Canada. Low import prices, vast resources, and in place infrastructure have allowed for easy natural gas imports from Canada. Looking to the future, as the Canadian natural gas market finds other buyers and the LNG market burgeons, imports from Canada to the US are likely to fall.
The most recent Short Term Energy Outlook published by the EIA puts the US as a net exporter of natural gas by 2017. With resources like the Marcellus and Utica leading the way, supported by the Bakken, Eagleford, and Barnett, the US continues to add to proved reserves stockpile, now totaling upward of 400 trillion cubic feet. In response to the ever increasing natural gas production, improved infrastructure is expected add 5.4 billion cubic feet per day and 3.4 billion cubic feet per day transport capacity to Canada and Mexico respectively by 2019.
The US continues to dominate the game when it comes to natural gas production and capacity. Despite low prices and low rig counts, US drillers are finding way to produce more efficiently. With two thirds of natural gas coming for hydraulically fractured wells and vast shale plays, it’s no wonder that natural gas imports continue to slide down.