U.S. exports of natural gas were greater than its imports in February, April and May, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. For nearly 60 years, the United States has been importing more natural gas than it exports.
The United States is shifting toward becoming a net exporter because of a decrease in pipeline imports from Canada, the rise in natural gas exports to Mexico and an increase in exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG).
“The United States began importing more natural gas than it exported in 1958, when total natural gas trade volumes were much smaller,” according to the EIA. “In October of that year, the TransCanada pipeline was completed, allowing Western Canadian natural gas to enter northeastern U.S. markets.” In 2007, natural gas imports from Canada peaked, “averaging over 10 billion cubic feet per day.”
In 2016, the largest amounts of natural gas entering the United States from Canada cross the border by pipeline in Idaho and Montana, accounting for 25% and 20%, respectively.
Meanwhile, U.S. exports to Canada have been rising steadily since 2000, when the Vector pipeline was completed. It originates in Chicago, has a capacity of 1.3 billion cubic feet per day and is supplied by natural gas from western Canada, Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. Natural gas is delivered to Canada at the border in St. Clair, Mich., and into the Dawn hub in Ontario. Natural gas exports from Michigan account for the most export volumes by pipeline to Canada.
In March 2017, total U.S. natural gas exports to Canada reached 3.21 billion cubic feet per day, near the monthly record of 3.25 billion cubic feet per day in December 2012. U.S. exports fell in April and May.
Natural gas exports to Mexico were 4.04 billion cubic feet per day on average in the first five months of 2017. In May 2017, exports of liquefied natural gas from Sabine Pass, La., set a new record of 1.96 billion cubic feet per day.