Natural gas consumption grows in US manufacturing

The manufacturing industry has consumed more natural gas in the United States, revealed a survey released by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Preliminary results from the EIA’s 2018 Manufacturing Energy Consumption Survey (MECS) show that the energy consumption of manufacturers in the United States has continued to rise from its 2010 low.

Natural gas and hydrocarbon gas liquids (HGL) led the increase, together accounting for more than half of the sector’s energy consumption in 2018.

Electricity consumption in the US manufacturing sector has also increased slightly since 2010, but consumption of gasoline and fuel oils, coal, coke and breeze has declined.


The EIA MECS is the only source of estimates of energy-related characteristics, consumption, and expenses for manufacturers in the United States.

EIA conducts the MECS every four years; the previous MECS provided information on the manufacturing sector in 2014.

The tenth and most recent survey began in 2019 and provides data for the 2018 calendar year.

Likewise, the first table of preliminary estimates from MECS 2018, released last week, provides the totals of the energy consumption of the manufacturing sector by fuel.

Consumption is accounted for on first use to avoid double counting when energy is consumed to produce other forms of energy, such as when coal is consumed to produce coal coke or when natural gas is consumed in a cogeneration process that generates heat and electricity .

Natural gas and consumption

Sales by U.S. manufacturers to consumers, end users, and other industries (measured in dollars as gross manufacturing output) increased 4% between 2014 and 2018, according to data from the U.S. Office of Economic Analysis.

During the same period, energy consumption by US manufacturers increased further, by 6%, resulting in an increase in the energy intensity of the sector.

The 2018 survey showed the first increase in manufacturing energy intensity in the United States since 2002.

In 2017, the United States exported more of this gas than it imported annually for the first time in nearly 60 years, making it a net exporter of natural gas.

Since then, net natural gas exports from the United States have more than doubled each year: from 0.3 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf / d) in 2017 to 2 Bcf / d in 2018 and to 5.2 Bcf / d in 2019.

Net natural gas exports began to decline in the spring of 2020 as a result of a global economic slowdown amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) and related containment efforts.

From April to June 2020, natural gas from the United States, marketed as liquefied natural gas (LNG) and through pipelines, decreased significantly, according to the EIA.