The United States set records for usage of natural gas by the electric power sector as well as gas exports in 2020, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), although domestic production and consumption dropped compared with the year before.
Gas deliveries to residential, commercial and industrial customers and for use as vehicle fuel all fell in 2020 after record domestic consumption in 2019, but deliveries to the electric power sector increased by 2.5% to 31.74 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d).
“Electric power deliveries were the highest for any year since EIA began tracking them in 1997,” EIA said in its Natural Gas Annual 2020 Report, issued Thursday.
Total natural gas exports in 2020 were the highest recorded in any year since 1973. Total exports of gas in 2020 were 14.4 Bcf/d, increasing for the sixth consecutive year. This was a 13.1% increase from the 4,658 Bcf exported in 2019. The United States in 2020 also set a record for the number of countries it exported to, which was 38, compared with 37 countries in 2019 and 33 countries in 2018, EIA said.
U.S. dry natural gas production dropped in 2020 after reaching a record high volume in 2019, the first time in four years that production dropped, EIA said. Domestic dry natural gas production was 33.5 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), or 91.5 Bcf/d in 2020, which was 1.5% lower than the 92.9 Bcf/d produced in 2019, according to the agency.
The state with the largest decrease in annual dry gas production in 2020 was Ohio, which had a decrease of 10.6%, producing 6.4 Bcf/d compared with 7.1 Bcf/d in 2019. The second-largest decrease was in Oklahoma, where production fell by 8.3%. Oklahoma produced 6.9 Bcf/d in 2020 compared with 7.5 Bcf/d in 2019. West Virginia, however, saw the largest increase, growing to 6.5 Bcf/d in 2020 from 5.4 Bcf/d in 2019, EIA said.
Domestic natural gas consumption, which hit a record high in 2019, also dropped last year for the first time since 2016, EIA said. Deliveries of natural gas to consumers in 2020 were 83.3 Bcf/d, dropping by 2.4% from 2019.
“Four of five sectors (residential, commercial, industrial, and vehicle fuel) saw a decrease in deliveries to consumers in 2020, and the electric power sector saw an increase in deliveries to consumers in 2020,” EIA said.
Deliveries to residential customers decreased by 7.1% between 2019 and 2020 to 12.77 Bcf/d last year, while deliveries to commercial customers fell by 10% to 8.66 Bcf/d. Natural gas deliveries to commercial customers decreased 3.4% to 22.27 Bcf/d. Deliveries of natural gas as a vehicle fuel fell by 7.8% to .13 Bcf/d.
The United States was a net exporter of natural gas for the fourth consecutive year in 2020, exporting 2,732 Bcf more over the year compared to 2019, or 7.5 Bcf/d, which was more gas than it imported.
But gas imports decreased for the third consecutive year, with total imports at 2,551 Bcf/d, which was a 7.2% decrease from the 2,742 Bcf/d imported in 2019.