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Energy Independence: U.S. Gas Imports Lowest In 28 Years

The U.S. is one step closer to being virtually self-sufficient when it comes to natural gas, according to government data. The country is importing less and less natural gas every year, and it’s gotten to the point where net gas imports are at a 28-year low.

Thanks to hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling into underground shale formations, net natural gas imports have dramatically fallen since 2006. The Energy Information Administration <a href=”http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=21332″>reports</a> that “U.S. net imports of natural gas decreased 9% in 2014, continuing an eight-year decline.”

“Net natural gas imports (imports minus exports) totaled 1,171 billion cubic feet (Bcf) in 2014, the lowest level since 1987,” EIA notes. “As U.S. dry natural gas production has reached record highs, lower domestic prices have helped to displace natural gas imports.”

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports in 2014 were down 54 percent from 2013, continuing the country’s five-year decline in foreign LNG reliance.

The U.S. most of its natural gas imports through Canadian pipelines, but even this piped gas had trouble competing with increased U.S. shale production. EIA says that “imports from Canada represented 7% of total U.S. natural gas consumption in 2014, down from 11% in 2009.”

Also of note, is that U.S. gas exports decreased as well last year, but at a much slower rate than the decline in gas imports. EIA data shows that gas exports were “still 9% above the previous five-year average.”

“Natural gas exports to Mexico, which account for nearly 50% of U.S. natural gas exports, increased 12% in 2014,” according to EIA.

The U.S. is expected to become a major player in world natural gas markets in the coming years as LNG export terminals are completed and new pipelines are laid that will take gas to Mexico and other countries.

But environmental activists aren’t happy with this new development and are protesting the construction of new pipelines and terminals. Activists are currently protesting in the offices of federal regulators that approve such projects.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”>
<p dir=”ltr” lang=”en”><a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/FERCus?src=hash”>#FERCus</a> anti-<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/fracking?src=hash”>#fracking</a> protests kicking off today in DC. Time for federal regulators to listen to science <a href=”http://t.co/JW6LcLYCqO”>http://t.co/JW6LcLYCqO</a></p>
— Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) <a href=”https://twitter.com/billmckibben/status/601372327255879680″>May 21, 2015</a></blockquote>
<script src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” async=”” charset=”utf-8″></script>

Eco-activists <a href=”http://www.dcmediagroup.us/2015/05/20/9-days-of-protest-to-expose-ferc/”>argue</a> that exporting natural gas will cause more global warming. They also say that exported gas will come from hydraulically fractured wells, which are contaminating groundwater (there’s no evidence that fracking is actually doing that).

U.S. allies in Europe, however, are clamoring for natural gas exports so they don’t have to rely on Russia for energy supplies. In the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Western European countries have been lobbying the U.S. to approve of export terminals to send LNG across the Atlantic.

<em><a href=”https://twitter.com/#!/MikeBastasch”>Follow Michael on Twitter</a></em>

 

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