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Canada to See Little Change in Winter Fuel Prices, Says NEB

Only slight price changes -- and no winter market spikes -- are in the forecast for the 2013-14 heating season by Canada's National Energy Board (NEB).

Natural gas alone is expected to go up by enough for alert consumers to notice on their monthly bills, while Canadian electricity and oil costs stay the same as last winter.

The NEB predicts heating-season gas will average C$2.90-$3.40 per gigajoule on TransCanada Corp.'s western Nova supply grid, and a comparable US$3.25-$3.75 per MMBtu at the Henry Hub in the United States.

Prices for gas at the eastern Canadian storage and trading hub -- Dawn in southern Ontario, the destination for growing U.S. exports -- are forecast to average US$3.40-$3.90/MMBtu this winter, little changed from last heating season.

Winter price ranges at NGI's NOVA AECO Bidweek Index have been declining and contracting from $4.22-$7.00 during the winter of '08 - '09 to $2.84 - $3.21 last winter. It seems reasonable that the effects of the North American natural gas supply glut may be abating somewhat as producers have worked hard to scale back production and working gas in storage comes down off the high end of its five year range.

The board observes that although volumes of gas in storage are trending downwards, inventories in Canada and the U.S. alike are well within their five-year average and the two countries combined production is holding steady at 70 Bcf/d.

The NEB forecasters saw nothing unusual so far in this year's editions of western cold snaps and eastern snow storms which almost invariably herald the onset of the Canadian heating season.

Weather forecasts used by the board anticipate a "normal" Canadian winter overall, with chillier than usual temperatures on the Pacific seaboard offset by warm spells in the Atlantic region.

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