On July 3, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) put out new data on overall energy consumption and it is worth pausing to reflect on the dramatic rise of natural gas. We often talk about natural gas and its market share in electricity generation. One thing the EIA’s overall consumption chart reminds people of is that even though petroleum has been pushed out of electricity almost completely, it is still the most-used energy source in the country.
Almost half, 47%, of that petroleum is burned as gasoline in vehicles. Most of the rest of the petroleum is burned as diesel or other liquid fuels. Another way of looking at it is that 92% of Americans’ transportation is fueled by petroleum. Natural gas has only a small, but growing, 3% share of the transportation market.
Natural gas is really dominating everything outside of transportation, though. In the EIA’s 2016 data, only 36% of the natural gas consumed in the United States went to electricity. Another 34% went to industrial uses, which covers everything from burning the gas for heat and power to breaking the gas down to produce products like chemicals and fertilizer. About 16% of the gas in America is used to heat the air, water, and stovetops in residential homes. The final major use is in the commercial sector, which consumes about 11% of the gas supply to provide heat and lighting for businesses.
The new overall energy consumption chart shows both coal and natural gas usage growing from the 1950s until 2005. By 2005, both coal and natural gas were providing about the same amount of energy. Since that time, the two fuels have gone completely different directions. Coal has dropped like a rock, losing over 40% of its consumption as coal-generated electricity began to fall out of favor because of changing costs and pollution concerns. Meanwhile, natural gas consumption increased 24% over that same period. Natural gas usage dropped slightly last year, but the trend lines seem to show a great future for gas and continued pain for coal.
The EIA also has data showing that production from Appalachia has been the primary driver of growth in American natural gas production since 2012. Cimmaron Land has some of the leading land experts in Appalachia, and if you are interested in opportunities in the region we encourage you to contact us today.