U.S. Natural Gas Exports Climbing Higher and Higher!

UDRBCTom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.


Natural gas exports just keep rising and exports contribute to the our economy in numerous ways, bringing economic development to both rural and urban areas.

Natural gas exports are growing and rapidly. Our natural gas is finding its way to Canada, Mexico and around the world with benefits to both rural and urban economies alike. Natural gas exports mean more lease payments, more royalties and more jobs, not to mention the multiplier benefits.

The Energy Information Administration’s Today In Energy blog covered the story of U.S. natural gas exports the other day and the news is just more evidence the shale revolution not only continues, but is unstoppable. Consider the following (emphasis added):

U.S. net natural gas exports in February 2019 totaled 4.6 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d), marking 13 consecutive months in which U.S. natural gas exports exceeded imports.

natural gas exports

The United States exports natural gas by pipeline to both Canada and Mexico and increasingly exports liquefied natural gas (LNG) to several other countries.

Although U.S. LNG exports have grown in recent years, most U.S. natural gas exports are sent by pipeline to neighboring Canada and Mexico. Natural gas exports to Canada tend to be seasonal, increasing in the winter months because of Canada’s use of natural gas as a heating fuel in its more populous eastern provinces. In contrast, U.S. natural gas exports to Mexico are steadier, reflecting Mexico’s use of natural gas for over half of its power generation and for industrial purposes.

U.S. exports by pipeline to Canada have risen since November 2018, when the second phase of the Rover pipeline and the NEXUS pipeline entered service. These two projects bring natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica plays in the Appalachian Basin to the Dawn Hub in Ontario, Canada, near the St. Clair border crossing northeast of Detroit, Michigan.

natural gas exports

U.S. natural gas exports to Canada were 3.3 Bcf/d in February 2019, the highest on record. Overall, exports of natural gas by pipeline to Canada averaged 2.3 Bcf/d in 2018.

U.S. pipeline exports of natural gas to Mexico in 2018 averaged 5.2 Bcf/d, up from 4.2 Bcf/d in 2017. Much of the recent growth is attributed to increased U.S. exports out of the Permian Basin in western Texas as new pipelines were installed and as natural gas-fired power plant projects in Mexico entered service. Several existing pipeline expansions in southern Texas were completed during the past 12 months as well, increasing cross-border capacity.

U.S. LNG exports averaged 3.0 Bcf/d in 2018 and recently hit a high of 4.1 Bcf/d in January 2019. The volume of U.S. LNG exports rose steadily during 2018 as three new liquefaction units, called trains, entered service:

  • March: A single train at the Cove Point terminal in Maryland
  • November: Train 5 at the Sabine Pass terminal near the Louisiana-Texas border
  • December: Train 1 at the Corpus Christi terminal in southern Texas

These three trains have a combined capacity of 1.9 Bcf/d, bringing total U.S. LNG export nameplate capacity to 4.3 Bcf/d as of the end of 2018. LNG export volumes are expected to continue to rise in 2019 as an additional 4.0 Bcf/d of liquefaction capacity is brought online by the end of the year.

EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) forecasts that U.S. net natural gas exports will average 4.7 Bcf/d in 2019 and 7.5 Bcf/d in 2020, with most of the growth attributable to increases in LNG exports.

natural gas exports

However, pipeline exports of natural gas are also increasing. In three months of 2018 (September through November), the United States exported more natural gas than it imported by pipeline, in part because of the October 9, 2018 explosion on the Westcoast pipeline in British Columbia that led Canada to restrict natural gas imports into Sumas, Washington. According to STEO forecasts, the United States will become a net exporter of natural gas by pipeline on an annual basis in 2019.

That’s success by any measure. Fractivists can go pound sand.

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3 thoughts on “U.S. Natural Gas Exports Climbing Higher and Higher!

  1. Again, this is barely the beginning stages of the US gas ‘story’ as global developments are proceeding at a blistering pace.

    Floating Storage and Regasification Units (FSRUs) are being installed in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Brazil, and possibly 5 in Australia.
    The fact that Excelerate set a record 800 MM cf/d sendout rate this past February 1 outside Boston (Northeast Gateway) using 2 FSRUs may well obviate the need for new pipelines into New England.

    The manufacturing of historically massive, expensive components for LNG plants is being transformed by ‘cookie cutter’ modularization practices wherein sophisticated parts are produced in assembly line fashion all over the globe and shipped to final destinations for assembly.

    The liquefaction processes have become so downsized that small and mid scale applications are springing up everywhere, greatly expanding the market.

    If the fuzzy heads at your universities in Philafelphia or Pittsburgh shatter the MOF (Metal Organic Framework) threshold to enable CNG to be used as efficiently as gasoline (Iranians are said to have already accomplished this), your world in the Marcellus/Utica region will change overnight.

    A typically high performing Marcellus well now produces in its first year the energy equivalent of almost a million barrels of oil at a cost of under $10 million.
    This is an extraordinary amount of energy at an exceedingly low cost.

    You folks are sitting atop a Saudi/Kuwaiti sized resource that will benefit the world for generations to come.


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