April 14 (Reuters) - The United States will transition from a net importer of natural gas to a net exporter of the fuel by 2017 as the nation's shale gas production continues to grow, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Tuesday in its Annual Energy Outlook.
In its 2014 outlook, the EIA forecast the U.S. would become a net exporter of gas before 2020.
The EIA said increases in domestic gas production are expected to reduce demand for gas imports from Canada and support growth in exports to Mexico, Asia and Europe.
Net gas exports would continue to grow after 2017, with annual net exports reaching 3.0 trillion cubic feet to 13.1 tcf in 2040, the agency said.
The United States produced a total of 24.4 tcf of dry gas in 2013 and was expected to produce between 31.9 tcf to 50.6 tcf in 2040, according to the report.
There are four LNG export terminals under construction in the United States in Maryland, Louisiana and Texas. The four terminals have contracts to export gas to customers in Asia and Europe and are expected to enter service between 2016 and 2019.
In addition, there are more than half a dozen pipeline projects to move gas from the United States to Mexico under construction or in development with some expected to enter service over the next few years. (Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Marguerita Choy)