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More Records for U.S. Natural Gas

The U.S. continues to set records in natural gas consumption, production, and exports.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently reported that the country used 89.1 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of natural gas in 2023, and that consumption has increased by about 4% each year since 2018.

The report attributed the rise largely to increased use in the power generation sector as the number of coal-fired power plants has declined. This trend is expected to continue due an increasing share of power from renewable energy sources, the cleaner emissions profile of abundant natural gas and new, tougher federal rules being imposed on coal-fired power plant emissions.

New consumption records were also set each month from March through November 2023, with the largest being in July and August when demand for power for air conditioning typically increases.

The largest amount of natural gas is used in the electric power sector, and that amount continues to rise. In 2022, 38% of gas was used for power generation, followed by industrial use at 32%, residential heating and cooling at 15%, and 11% for commercial buildings, according to the EIA.

At the same time domestic use of gas is increasing, so is its production. U.S. natural gas production grew by 4% in 2023, to average 125.0 Bcf/d, according to the EIA. The development of unconventional well technology, or hydraulic fracturing, has made the U.S. the top nation in natural gas production.

Three shale gas regions - Appalachia, Permian, and Haynesville -accounted for 59% of all natural gas production in the United States, similar to 2022. The Appalachian region takes in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio, which have the abundant Marcellus and Utica plays. The Appalachian region accounted for 29% of U.S. production.

As the amount of gas produced has increased, so has the amount being exported to other countries. The U.S. exported a record volume of natural gas in 2023, at 20.9 Bcf/d, a 10% increase over the previous year. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports accounted for more than half of that amount, with pipeline exports to Canada and Mexico making up the rest. The U.S. supplied early half of Europe’s LNG imports in 2023, as the country committed to help it allies after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine roiled the global energy market and placed sanctions on imports of Russian gas.

Because the price of natural gas is currently low and expected to remain in that range due to oversupply, the EIA is predicting a slight pullback in production this year. However natural gas is expected to continue to be an energy driver in the U.S. economy in the coming years.

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