U.S. expected to become net exporter of natural gas for first time in decades

January 16, 2018

The U.S. could become a net exporter of natural gas in 2018 for the first time since 1957, thanks to increased natural gas exports to Mexico, LNG exports to at least 20 countries and less gas flowing into the country from Canada, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Exports of LNG continue to grow, as terminals on the Gulf Coast reach full capacity, and with planned terminal additions in Maryland, Georgia, Texas and Louisiana, the Energy Department expects that by 2019 the U.S. LNG capacity will be the third largest in the world. U.S. pipeline capacity to Mexico is also expected to double by 2019.

As exports of natural gas increased, domestic consumption of natural gas fell in 2017. Natural gas spot prices averaged $3.01 per million British thermal units -- about 50 cents higher than in 2016, when prices reached a near 20 year low.

Higher natural gas prices meant fewer power plants were using the fuel to generate power, and natural gas consumption fell by 6 percent, as compared to 2016.

Future U.S. pipeline exports to Mexico are supported by a near doubling of U.S. export pipeline capacity to Mexico by 2019. However, further growth in natural gas pipeline exports to Mexico will be contingent on the timely completion of Mexico's connecting pipelines, which so far have...

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