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Energy Profile of the United States

by Bob Bellemare
Vice President, Utility Services
Information based up data from the U.S. Energy Administration.
April 26, 2001

The United States has proven natural gas reserves of 167 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), 3.2% of world reserves, and currently consumes natural gas at a rate of 22.8 Tcf per year. The U.S. imports only (net) 3.6 Tcf of natural gas, largely from Canada. Natural gas wellhead prices averaged over $6.00 per thousand cubic feet (mcf) during the first quarter of 2001, up sharply from $3.62/mcf seen in 2000 and nearly triple the 1999 average price of $2.08/mcf . The price increases are attributed to a decline in U.S. gas production during the 1990s because of low prices, the increase in demand driven by new power generation, and gas storage levels dropping below normal. In response to high prices, domestic gas production is projected to increase. New gas production is expected to come mainly from onshore sources, although offshore Gulf of Mexico production is also forecasted to grow significantly. From 1990 through 2000, natural gas consumption in the United States increased by 22% and this growth is predicted to continue as natural gas is expected to be the dominant fuel of choice for new power plant construction. It is predicted that natural gas consumption will reach 31.5 Tcf by 2020. Gas is consumed mainly in the industrial (41%), residential (22%), commercial (15%) and electric utility (13%) sectors. Canadian imports are also expected to expand substantially through 2020 resulting from additional gas-fired electric power plants. This anticipated increased consumption will require expansion of gas pipeline and storage capacity - $1.5 trillion over the next 15 years according to the National Petroleum Council.

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