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Natural Gas Meeting Nearly One-Quarter of U.S. Energy Consumption, EIA Says

U.S. primary energy consumption totaled 7.66 quadrillion Btu in May, and natural gas met 24.1% of that demand, a 0.8% increase from a year earlier, according to preliminary estimates compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

According to summary data released Wednesday in its latest Monthly Energy Review (MER) -- the agency's primary report of recent energy statistics -- petroleum met 38.4% (1.84 quadrillion Btu) of the nation's energy consumption, the same mark it set one year earlier when it supplied 2.94 quadrillion Btu to meet total energy consumption of 7.66 quadrillion Btu.

In May 2014, natural gas was the second-highest fuel source to quench the nation's demand for energy, at 1.84 quadrillion Btu. Coal was in third place at 1.35 quadrillion Btu (17.6% of total energy consumption), followed by renewable energy at 856 trillion Btu (11.2%) and nuclear electric power at 660 trillion Btu (8.6%).

The figures indicate that natural gas use is expanding at the expense of coal. In May 2013, natural gas met 23.3% (1.78 quadrillion Btu) of the nation's total energy consumption, while coal accounted for 17.9% (1.37 quadrillion Btu). Renewables and nuclear electric power were unchanged in terms of percentage, accounting for 857 trillion Btu and 659 trillion Btu, respectively.

For the first five months of 2014, natural gas consumption totaled 12.6 quadrillion Btu, a 5.6% increase (664 trillion Btu) from the pace set during the first five months of 2013.

Primary energy production totaled 35.06 quadrillion Btu for the first five months of 2014, a 5% increase from the first five months of 2013 (33.4 quadrillion Btu), and 6.9% above the same span in 2012 (32.8 quadrillion Btu). For May 2014 alone, primary energy production totaled 7.26 quadrillion Btu, a 4.9% increase over the 6.92 quadrillion Btu produced in May 2013.

Dry natural gas production totaled 2.22 quadrillion Btu in May 2014, a 5.4% increase over the 2.11 quadrillion Btu produced the previous May. As a percentage of overall primary energy production, dry natural gas accounted for 30.6% of the total in May 2014, compared to 30.5% in May 2013.

Earlier this month, the EIA reported that natural gas broke several records in May, with estimates for total production and marketed production for both wet and dry gas reaching new highs (see Daily GPIAug. 1).

According to the EIA, U.S. natural gas production hit a record 2.68 Tcf in May, up 5.6% from the 2.54 Tcf produced in May 2013. During the same time frame, marketed wet gas production climbed from 2.17 Tcf to a record 2.29 Tcf (a 5.9% increase) while dry gas production rose from 2.06 Tcf to a record 2.17 Tcf (a 5.4% increase).

The pace of production indicates that total production by the end of 2014 could very well eclipse the 30.2 Tcf produced in 2013. Through the first five months of 2014, the EIA said gas production totaled 13.0 Tcf, a 4.8% increase from the 12.4 Tcf produced during the first five months of 2013.

Production and marketing rose for the second consecutive month. Total production was 2.59 Tcf in April, while marketed wet and dry gas production were 2.29 Tcf and 2.17 Tcf, respectively.

The EIA reported that natural gas imports were 206 Bcf in May, up 2.5% from the previous month, but 12% lower than the 234 Bcf imported in May 2013. Exports were also down from the previous month, falling 7.4% between April (122 Bcf) and May (113 Bcf), and had declined 20% from the 142 Bcf exported in May 2013.

As a consequence of higher imports and lower exports, net imports of natural gas climbed 17.7% between April and May, increasing from 79 Bcf to 93 Bcf. But that figure was similar to the prior year, when net imports stood at 92 Bcf in May 2013.

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