Understanding Natural Gas Units Is Fundamental to Understanding the Gas Industry

by Enerdynamics staff

To fully understand the natural gas industry, one must also understand the various units by which natural gas is measured. For example, if you ask someone how much gas U.S. consumers use in a year, they’ll tell you it’s about 25 Bcf. Or if you ask someone what the wholesale price of natural gas is right now, they’ll say something like $3.85/MMBtu. But your usage at home is measured in therms. To know the meaning behind these different quantities, you must understand what various units measure and how the units relate.

The following video provides a short but thorough explanation of natural gas units:

For your reference, here is a summary of the information:

Common natural gas unit abbreviations:
Mcf = Thousand Cubic Feet
MMcf = Million Cubic Feet
bbl = Barrel
gal = Gallon
Btu = British Thermal Unit
MMBtu = Million Btu
Dth = decatherm
GJ = gigajoule (metric measure of energy)
Dth = decatherm
toe = tons of oil equivalent

Gas unit conversions:
1 therm = 100,000 Btu
1 Dth = 10 therms
10 therms = 1 MMBtu
1,000,000 Btu = 1 MMBtu
1 Dth = 1 MMBtu
1000 Mcf = 1 MMcf
1000 MMcf = 1 Bcf
1 MMcf = 1,015 MMBtu*
1 GJ = 0.95 MMBtu
1 bbl = 42 gal (U.S. gal)
1 bbl = 34.97 gal (Imperial gal)
1 bbl = 0.136 toe

*This conversion varies with the energy content of the gas

With this knowledge, you are now ready to discuss natural gas matters with the industry pros.


This article has been adapted from an entry in Enerdynamics’ Energy Knowledgebase, which is an online resource of important energy industry terms and concepts explained simply and clearly. It is available through Enerdynamics’ eLearning Portal. For more information e-mail us a info@enerdynamics.com or call us at 866.765.5432 x700.

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