U.S. natural gas imports 1955-2018

In 2018, the United States imported 2,911 billion cubic feet of natural gas. U.S. imports of natural gas strongly increased from the 1990s to the early 2000s and seemed to have peaked around the mid-2000s. However, natural gas production, consumption, and exports have reached some of its highest levels in 2018.

Exports exceeding imports

As imports of natural gas in the United States have fallen since 2005, U.S. natural gas exports have risen dramatically, especially from 2015 onward. Around this time, demand for natural gas exports to Mexico increased, and within a few years, exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) made up a significant portion of overall demand for the first time.

Fracking since the financial crisis

The rise in exports of LNGs and decrease in imports to the United States was driven in large part due to changes in the natural gas industry following the 2008 Recession. As the price of oil peaked following the financial crisis, natural gas took hold after several years of decreasing costs. The price of natural gas continued to drop as investors seized on low interest rates to develop new methods of natural gas production, mainly through hydraulic fracturing (or fracking). This method is used to access natural gas and oil in formations that were previously difficult to reach, as well as to extend production in older oil and gas fields.

U.S. natural gas imports from 1955 to 2018

Imports in billion cubic feet
20182,911
20173,042
20163,006
20152,718
20142,695
20132,883
20123,138
20113,469
20103,741
20054,341
20003,782
19952,841
19901,532
1985950
1980985
1975953
1970*821
1965*456
1960*156
1955*11
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Source

Release date

March 2019

Region

United States

Survey time period

1955 to 2018

Supplementary notes

* Figures through 1970 are taken from the 2010 Annual Energy Review, page 197, released by the EIA in October 2011.

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Statistics on "Natural gas energy in the U.S."

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