The White House touted new federal data on Wednesday showing the U.S. is on the path to becoming a net exporter of natural gas for the first time in 60 years.
New Census Bureau data showed the U.S. achieved net exporter status in June by "selling about $593 million worth of natural gas to the world while importing $566 million via gas pipelines from Canada and as liquefied natural gas," the White House press office said.
"With new pipeline and LNG export capacity coming online soon, the United States should close out 2017 as a net exporter of natural gas, a situation that hasn't been seen since 1957," the statement added. It cited the Energy Information Administration, the Energy Department's analysis arm that often uses Census Bureau data as the basis for its energy projections.
The EIA has made projections for years that the U.S. will become a net natural gas exporter in 2017, so the latest short-term outlook is not too surprising. What is significant is that the White House is keeping close tabs on the energy data to bolster the president's policy agenda.
President Trump's energy agenda, or Energy Dominance, is focused on increasing natural gas exports to countries in Europe and Asia. He often includes discussions on increasing energy exports in talks with foreign leaders.
Exports are only possible because of the shale energy boom and hydraulic fracturing that have made the U.S. one of the largest producers of oil and gas in the world.
The Washington Examiner reported Tuesday that a 23 percent rise in exports will lead to a surge in new drilling in the nation's shale fields in 2018.
"Forecast record natural gas production in 2018 coincides with an expected rise in electricity generation from natural-gas fired power plants and a 23% increase in U.S. natural gas exports," said Howard Gruenspecht, the acting EIA administrator, in releasing Tuesday's report.
The report also said that the price per unit of natural gas in the U.S. will rise because of the higher rate of exports.
"Higher natural gas exports and growing domestic natural gas consumption in 2018 contribute to the forecast Henry Hub natural gas spot price rising from an annual average of $3.06 [per million British thermal units (MMBtu)] in 2017 to $3.29/MMBtu in 2018," the report stated.