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U.S. Natural Gas Physical Trading Volume and Marketed Production Remain High

Marketed production of natural gas decreased slightly in the United States in 2020 but remained near the previous year’s record-high levels, according to a Cornerstone Research report released today. U.S. physical trading activity rose for the sixth straight year.

The report, Characteristics of U.S. Natural Gas Transactions: Insights from FERC Form 552 Submissions as of July 1, 2021, found that annual marketed production fell 1% in 2020, to 41,309 tBtu, compared to the previous year. At the same time, physical trading activity reported by 670 respondents rose 2.7% in 2020 to 157,368 tBtu.

The latest net export growth projections for the 2019–2022 period have surpassed pre-pandemic forecasts.

The COVID-19 pandemic contributed to an estimated 10% contraction of all U.S. domestic energy consumption in 2020, and a 2% decrease in natural gas usage. In the second quarter of 2020, natural gas prices plummeted to decade lows across all major gas-consuming regions. The average annual Henry Hub price dropped 21% in 2020, to its lowest level in more than  20 years. But by December 2020, the monthly average price was back to pre-pandemic levels, up 59% from the all-time low in June 2020.

“Marketed production of natural gas in 2020 remained near the record-high levels reached in 2019 despite COVID-19’s impact,” said Nicole Moran, a Cornerstone Research principal and report coauthor. “The latest net export growth projections for the 2019–2022 period have surpassed pre-pandemic forecasts.”

Index-priced transactions comprised around 83% of all Form 552 transactions, an increase of 16 percentage points since 2008. For the sixth straight year, companies that chose not to report fixed-price volume to the indices (62%) comprised a larger share of fixed-price volume than reporting companies (38%).

“The U.S. exported more than 2,410 billion cubic feet of LNG in 2020, up 31% from 2019” said Greg Leonard, a Cornerstone Research senior vice president and report coauthor. “In late 2020, high LNG prices in Asia and Europe relative to Henry Hub increased opportunities for interregional trade.”

The growth of U.S. LNG exports was supported by higher U.S. natural gas surplus, driven by decreased domestic consumption and a continued increase in LNG export terminal capacity. About half of U.S. LNG exports went to five countries in 2020: China, South Korea, Japan, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

Copyright ©2021 Cornerstone ResearchNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 299

About this Author

Greg Leonard European Finance Cornerstone Research London, UK
Senior 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. 


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)