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EIA: The US exported a record volume of natural gas in 2023

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The US exported 10% more natural gas in 2023 than in 2022, a record of 20.9 billion ft3/d, according to the EIA’s Natural Gas Monthly. US LNG exports accounted for more than half of all US natural gas exports, and natural gas exports by pipeline to Canada and Mexico accounted for the remainder.

LNG exports: LNG exports continued to drive the growth in total US natural gas exports last year, increasing 12% (1.3 billion ft3/d) from 2022. US LNG exports averaged a record 13.6 billion ft3/d in December 2023. The US began exporting LNG from the Lower 48 states in 2016 when Sabine Pass LNG – the first LNG export terminal in the Lower 48 states – began operations. The US supplied nearly half of Europe’s LNG imports last year.

Exports by pipeline: US natural gas exports by pipeline also increased last year. Exports to Canada increased 7% to 2.8 billion ft3/d, and exports to Mexico increased 8% to 6.1 billion ft3/d. In 2023, natural gas exports from the Northeast rose by more than 15% (0.2 billion ft3/d), accounting for most of the increase in total natural gas exports to Canada. Most pipeline exports from the US to Canada exit through New York in the Northeast and Michigan in the Midwest.

Pipeline exports to Mexico from Texas increased 9% to 5.6 billion ft3/d in 2023, with most of the growth coming from exports from West Texas, which increased by 20% (1.6 billion ft3/d) compared with 2022. Natural gas pipeline exports from West Texas to Mexico have grown steadily since 2017 as more connecting pipelines in Central and Southwest Mexico have entered service.

Since 2017, the US has exported more natural gas than it has imported. Prior to 2017, the last time US natural gas exports exceeded natural gas imports was in 1956. Even as a net natural gas exporter in 2023, the US imported 8 billion ft3/d of natural gas, primarily by pipeline from Canada.

Imports by pipeline: US natural gas imports by pipeline, which come primarily from Canada, decreased by 3% last year compared with 2022 to 8 billion ft3/d. Natural gas imports from Canada, which exceed US natural gas exports to Canada, help support seasonal fluctuations in natural gas consumption in the US and generally peak in January or February. Imports from Canada in January and February 2023 fell by 6% from the same period in 2022, in part because of milder winter weather and less natural gas consumption in the US residential and commercial sectors. Wildfires in western Canada in April and May 2023 also disrupted deliveries from Canada, and imports from Canada in those months averaged 9% less than in the same period in 2022.

LNG imports: US LNG imports are much smaller than natural gas imports by pipeline, and the US imported less than 0.1 billion ft3/d of LNG during the last two years. Almost all LNG imports are delivered to the New England market, where natural gas imports have been an important source of supply during periods of high demand, particularly in the winter. Warmer-than-average temperatures in the Northeast at the beginning and end of 2023 reduced natural gas demand, resulting in lower LNG imports compared with 2022.

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