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The U.S. Remains The Natural Gas King

The U.S. Remains The Natural Gas King

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Data from the 2018 BP Statistical Review of World Energy show that last year the U.S. maintained a healthy lead as the global natural gas powerhouse.

In 2017, the U.S. produced an average of 71.1 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of natural gas. That’s a 1.0 percent increase from 2016 production, but not quite good enough to beat the 2015 record of 71.6 Bcf/d.

That was still good enough for a 20.0 percent share of the world’s total natural gas production.

Shale Gas Puts U.S. Back on Top

To put the U.S. production numbers in perspective, natural gas production for the entire Middle East was 63.8 Bcf/d. Russia, in second place among countries, saw its natural gas production surge by 8.2 percent, but at 61.5 Bcf/d that was still well behind the U.S.

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Natural gas production 1970-2017

The U.S. had dominated global natural gas production until the 1980s, at which time it ceded the lead to Russia. The Middle East has grown its natural gas production at a much faster rate over the past 50 years, though, and is on pace to take the lead during the next decade.

U.S. natural gas production had been in decline until the fracking boom that began in the middle of the previous decade. Production grew in the U.S. by an astounding 51 percent from 2005 to 2015, which pushed the U.S. back into the global lead.

U.S. consumption has also grown rapidly as power plants have turned increasingly to natural gas as both a replacement for coal-fired power, and a backup for new renewable capacity.

U.S. Gas Exports are Surging

Another important outlet for U.S. natural gas production has been exports, both via pipeline and as liquefied natural gas (LNG). LNG exports from the U.S. reached 1.7 Bcf/d in 2017, equivalent to about 2.4 percent of U.S. natural gas production. Mexico received nearly 22 percent of these exports, while the Asia Pacific region received 41 percent.

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