Industrial sector is top consumer of natural gas
The U.S. industrial sector consumes more natural gas than any other sector, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA). About two-thirds of total industrial consumption was used for heat or power applications in 2017.
The sector is expected to increase its natural gas consumption by 40 percent by 2050, increasing from 9.8 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) in 2017 to 13.7 quadrillion Btu in 2050.
China grows to world’s second-largest LNG importer
Data from HIS Markit and the Chinese government show that China surpassed South Korea as the world’s second-largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) importer in 2017. Chinese imports averaged 5 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2017, while Japanese imports averaged 11 Bcf/d. China’s increase in LNG imports was largely driven by government policies to reduce air pollution.
US crude oil exports increased in 2017
Crude oil was the third-largest type of U.S. petroleum export in 2017, reported the EIA. The country exported 1.1 million barrels per day (b/d) to 37 destinations. The increase was driven by expanded infrastructure, which resulted in lower domestic crude oil prices compared to international crude oil prices. The 89-percent increase marks the largest single year-over-year increase of a petroleum export since 1920. In 2016, U.S. crude oil exports reached 27 countries.
NGPL production increases for 12th straight year
U.S. production of natural gas plant liquids (NGPL) increased to a record 3.74 million barrels per day (MMb/d), making 2017 the 12th consecutive year of NGPL production increases in the country. Total production grew 6.4 percent over 2016, which is double the 2007 levels. The EIA expects NGPL production to rise to 5.57 MMb/d in 2050, growing at a rate 0.9 percent.
US natural gas exports outpaced imports in 2017
For the first time since 1957, the U.S. was a net natural gas exporter in 2017. Drivers included the growth of U.S. natural gas production, which reduced pipeline imports from Canada and increased exports by pipeline and LNG. U.S. production has increased significantly over the last 10 years.
US ethane consumption and exports to grow
The EIA predicts that growth in the U.S. consumption of ethane will outpace all other petroleum and liquid products. The agency also expects ethane exports to continue increasing since ethane is exported Canada by pipeline and to more distant destinations by tankers.
In 2017, three new ethylene crackers on the Texas Gulf Coast increased U.S. capacity to consume ethane by 210,000 barrels per day (b/d). Six more ethylene crackers are expected to be completed by the end of 2019. The EIA predicts that U.S. ethane consumption will grow from about 1.2 million b/d in 2017 to 1.4 million b/d in 2018 and 1.6 million b/d in 2019.