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Natural gas energy in the U.S. - statistics & facts

The United States requires energy at ever-increasing amounts for residential, commercial, and industrial purposes. Natural gas has met much of this need especially following the implementation of hydraulic fracturing in the late 2000s and early 2010s to reach previously inaccessible shale reservoirs. As a result, natural gas has overtaken coal to become the greatest contributor to U.S. net electricity generation.

The natural gas supply chain and costs

Natural gas is made up of compounds of hydrogen and carbon. Once extracted from an underground reservoir, it is transferred to a processing plant to remove impurities and by-products. Methane and other useful gases are often separated from natural gas to be further used in the petrochemical industry. The processed gas, called dry or consumer-grade natural gas, is then sent through pipelines and stored in underground fields or towards distribution companies that send the gas to consumers. Due to the abundance of natural gas reservoirs, the fossil fuel has been one of the less expensive forms of energy available in the U.S. In 2020, the price for natural gas was roughly 2.4 U.S. dollars per million British thermal unit of electricity generated. While average installation costs for natural gas generators ranged between 948 and 1,483 U.S. dollars per kilowatt, depending on the technology type.

Largest producers and consumers

The electric power sector is the largest natural gas consumer in the country. In 2020, U.S. natural gas energy consumption reached over 30 quadrillion British thermal units, with utilities accounting for over one third of that amount. Most of the natural gas used in the U.S. is produced domestically. Almost 915 billion cubic meters were extracted in 2020, while Texas was the leading natural gas energy producer in the country.

Although there has been greater emphasis on renewable fuels in recent years, the role of natural gas for electricity generation worldwide is expected to increase in the coming decades.

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