Natural Gas Import & Export Regulation -
HISTORY OF DATA COLLECTION
Section 3 of the Natural Gas Act of 1938 (NGA) requires the federal government to issue orders approving of denying applications to import or export natural gas. This statutory responsibility has been given to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and subsequently redelegated to the Assistant Secretary of the Office of Fossil Energy (see history of jurisdiction). Our office, which is responsible for authorizing natural gas imports and exports, began collecting information on natural gas import and export activity from authorization holders in early 1985. The reporting requirements, consisting of monthly volumes and average international border prices, were inserted as a condition to new or amended export authorizations approved by the office. Today, virtually all import and export authorization holders file this information. Our office makes the data filed with us available to the public in a written report about 75 days after each calendar quarter. The reports contain detailed volume and price data on all international natural gas trade involving the United States. The United States imports natural gas from Canada, Mexico, Algeria, Australia, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Malaysia, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Qatar, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United Arab Emirates, while it exports natural gas to Canada, Mexico, Japan, and Russia.
How and when the data are collected
We require every natural gas importer and exporter to file 12 monthly reports per year to describe its import and export activity. They are required to file their reports no later than 30 days after each month. They must indicate whether they imported or exported during the reporting period and, if so, provide by month, specific volume, price, transportation, and marketing information. Although we do not require importers and exporters to file their reports according to any specific format, we do provide a sample report format for all import and export scenarios. The data we collect from the companies are used in compiling our Natural Gas Imports and Exports Quarterly Reports.
Reasons for collecting international gas statistics
The principal reasons we collect the data are (1) to ensure that importers and exporters are complying with the terms of their authorizations; (2) to monitor the effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement on cross-border gas trade; and (3) to improve the capability of the industry and government to respond to any future energy emergency-related supply problem. We also believe that the collection of gas import and export statistics are valuable to DOE and others in performing various types of analyses. Accurate and timely statistics on international gas trade are becoming increasingly important because of the growing role of imports in providing sufficient gas supplies to accommodate the rapid growth in gas demand in this country. For example, in 1986 imports represented 4.2 percent of total gas consumption in the country; however, in 2006, two decades later, imports equaled about 16.2 percent of consumption.
Description of the data collected
Imports and exports are reported to us on a transaction-by-transaction basis, and include the following: (1) importer or exporter; (2) supplier; (3) monthly quantity; (4) international entry or exit point; (5) international border price ($/MMBtu); (6) transporters; (7) geographic markets served; and (8) estimated duration of the contracts.
Users of the data collected
Our office's natural gas import and export statistics are relied on by many federal and state agencies, as well as offices within DOE because they are the only governmental source for timely and thorough information on international gas trade. Among the federal and state agencies which use the data include The Department of Homeland Security, Department of State; the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Commerce Department; Treasury Department; Labor Department; and state energy offices and public utility commissions. Within DOE, the principal users of the data include the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Energy Information Administration (EIA). EIA, the primary office within DOE responsible for energy statistics and analyses, uses the data in its National Energy Modeling System, as well as various publications such as the Natural Gas Monthly and Natural Gas Issues and Trends. In addition to government agencies, other customers of the data include trade associations, trade journals, consultants, and energy companies.