September 20, 2020

Volume X, Number 264

September 18, 2020

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

September 17, 2020

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

Trends in Natural Gas Production and Consumption

Marketed production of natural gas reached a record high in 2019, continuing the steady growth observed since 2005. This growth, driven by U.S. shale expansion, outpaced consumption and net exports, leading to a storage buildup.

In January 2020, the EIA estimated annual growth of natural gas production through 2025 to hover around 2 percent. The repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, ushered in a contraction of consumption, rising storage capacity utilization, and a price collapse.

Domestic Market

  • Annual marketed production of natural gas increased 10 percent in 2019, reaching 41,117 tBtu.
  • Natural gas consumption rose in 2019 by 3 percent, increasing from 34,305 tBtu to 35,499 tBtu.
  • The EIA, which until January projected annual natural gas production to grow by 2 percent through 2025,[i] now anticipates a 3 percent and 6 percent contraction in 2020 and 2021 as a result of the COVID‑19 pandemic and falling prices.[ii]

The EIA expects U.S. natural gas consumption to decline by 3 percent in 2020 and 5 percent in 2021 given the lower industrial sector economic activity caused by COVID-19 mitigation efforts.[iii]


  • Global demand for natural gas cooled in 2019 following a milder winter and slower economic growth.[iv] As a result, U.S. net exports did not bridge the production to consumption gap, leading to a strong storage buildup (see Figures 2 and 3).
  • LNG’s share of total U.S. natural gas exports rose to 39 percent in 2019 from 30 percent in 2018. The remaining 61 percent was exported via pipeline.[v]
  • U.S. LNG exports to China decreased by over 90 percent, with Europe absorbing the majority of incremental supply.[vi]

The EIA, which until January projected U.S. net exports of natural gas to increase by 120 percent between 2019 and 2021, has revised this forecast to 43 percent. Projected LNG export growth over the same period was reduced from 77 percent to 46 percent.[vii]

Figure 2: U.S. Natural Gas Balance Sheet 2019

Natural Gas Balance Sheet

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

Note: Values are converted using the 2019 Marketed Production conversion rate of 1,134 Btu per cubic foot of natural gas. Dry Gas Production is Marketed Production (41,117 tBtu) less Natural Gas Plant Liquids (NGPL) Production (2,881 tBtu). The Dry Gas Production value also includes “Supplemental Gaseous Fuels.” Consumption value also includes the “Balancing Item” used by EIA to reconcile volume measurements.

Figure 3: U.S. Natural Gas in Underground Storage 2010–2019

US Natural Gas Underground Storage

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)

Note: tBtu conversion uses the Marketed Heat Content Btu per cubic foot. Volumes are converted from billions of cubic feet to tBtu using the Marketed Heat Content reported by the EIA. Five-year averages and 2010–2019 ranges are based on daily linear interpolations of the working gas inventory values between each week reported, and are converted to tBtu using the 2019 Marketed Heat Content Btu per cubic foot.

Read the report, Characteristics of U.S. Natural Gas Transactions: FERC Form 552 Submissions as of July 2020.

Read 2020 Midyear Review on Natural Gas: A Look at COVID‑19’s Impact.

[i]       2020 EIA AEO Report         , p. 46.

[ii]      2020 EIA STEO Report.

[iii]      2020 EIA STEO Report.

[iv]       China’s economic growth rate fell to an estimated 6.1 percent according to the IMF, its lowest annual increase since 1990.

[v]                 Percentage for 2018: 1,083,118 mmcf total LNG exports / 3,607,418 mmcf total natural gas exports = 30 percent. Percentage for 2019: 1,819,386 mmcf total LNG exports / 4,656,312 mmcf total natural gas exports = 39 percent. See “           U.S. Natural Gas Exports and Re-Exports by Country,” EIA, accessed July 31, 2020, (“EIA U.S. Natural Gas Exports Data”).

[vi]      EIA U.S. Natural Gas Exports Data.

[vii]      2020 EIA STEO Report, Table 5a; 2020 EIA AEO Report, Table 13.

Copyright ©2020 Cornerstone ResearchNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 228


About this Author

Greg Leonard European Finance Cornerstone Research London, UK
Vice President

Greg Leonard heads Cornerstone Research’s European finance practice. Dr. Leonard has nearly two decades of experience consulting for clients in complex litigation and regulatory proceedings. On behalf of clients, he has led regulatory investigations on both sides of the Atlantic, managing teams and simultaneously supporting experts across multiple related matters. Dr. Leonard has substantial experience directing analyses of large and complex high-frequency financial data sets, from both private entities and trading exchanges.

Dr. Leonard’s expertise includes high-profile matters at...

Nicole M. Moran, Finance, Economy, Commercial Litigation, Cornerstone Research

Nicole Moran provides financial and economic analysis in complex commercial litigation and regulatory proceedings. She supports experts in preparing for deposition and trial testimony. Her experience spans several industries, including energy, agriculture, FX, consumer lending, and electronics. Dr. Moran has a leading role in Cornerstone Research’s research on cryptocurrency exchanges, derivative contracts and initial coin offerings. Her case experience includes arbitration, regulatory investigations, market manipulation, antitrust, consumer finance, and financial institutions. 

Dr. Moran focuses emphasis is on derivative markets for both exchange-traded and over-the-counter products that involve trading activity, order book data, and evaluation of market design that affect market participant behavior. She has extensive experience working with a variety of different types of large, complex transactional datasets from financial institutions. On behalf of clients, she has appeared before enforcement staffs at the U.S. Department of Justice, the Federal Reserve, and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

In cases related to market manipulation and antitrust, Dr. Moran has:

  • Analyzed trading in foreign exchange products by one of the top foreign exchange broker-dealers facing multinational investigations of collusion and manipulation of foreign exchange markets
  • Analyzed trading in interest rate derivatives by a major multinational bank under investigation in several countries for possible manipulation of LIBOR and similar financial benchmarks
  • On behalf of numerous crude oil trading companies, analyzed physical and financial product trading activity in response to government trading investigation
  • On behalf of a futures exchange, investigated trading and positions in response to a government investigation
  • On behalf of a large food company, investigated purchasing, production, and hedging behavior in response to government and civil proceedings
  • On behalf of a joint defense, investigated price-fixing allegations for indirect purchasers of optical disk drives
  • Analyzed valuation of municipal bonds
  • Analyzed and developed rebuttal arguments regarding antitrust claims and market manipulation claims brought in civil cases

Dr. Moran leads the firm’s research related to analysis of U.S. natural gas transactions from FERC Form 552 submissions. She has published chapters in various books, including “Agriculture” in Commodities: Markets, Performance, and Strategies, Oxford University Press and “Bubbles, Food Prices, and Speculation: Evidence from the CFTC’s Daily Large Trader Data Files” in The Economics of Food Price Volatility, University of Chicago Press. Her research has also been published in leading journals, including the Journal of Futures and the Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics.

Prior to joining Cornerstone Research, Dr. Moran was a research economist at the CTFC, where she conducted statistical and econometric analyses on derivative markets and agricultural futures.

Laurent Samuel Energy Cornerstone Research Washington, DC


  • Characteristics of U.S. Natural Gas Transactions: FERC Form 552 Submissions as of June 2019
  • Battle of the Benchmarks: Brent Crude Oil and West Texas Intermediate
  • Characteristics of U.S. Natural Gas Transactions: FERC Form 552 Submissions as of June 2018


  • Harvard University, M.B.A.
  • McGill University, B. Comm. (with distinction)