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DOE Says Natural Gas Trade Between U.S., Canada Slowed in 1H2018

Natural gas trade slowed down in both directions across the border between Canada and the United States during the first six months of this year, according to the latest scorecard compiled by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Canadian pipeline exports, while still the top item in North American cross-border flows, declined 1.5% to 1.54 Tcf in 1H2018, down from 1.56 Tcf in 1H2017, according to DOE's natural gas regulation office.

U.S. exports to Canada fell 21% to 397.7 Bcf in January through June 2018, down from 497.3 Bcf in the same period of 2017. Daily northbound U.S. gas exports of 2.2 Bcf were barely more than one-fourth of 8.5 Bcf in southbound Canadian flows.

Prices also turned down at the Canada-U.S. border, with reductions undermining the value of pipeline deliveries in both directions. The average fetched by Canadian gas exports dropped 12% to US$2.38/MMBtu in 1H2018, down from $2.70 in 1H2017. Northbound U.S. exports lost 3% to $3.10, down from $3.20.

Canadian border prices invariably come out lower as averages for deliveries across the continent to widely variable markets. Northbound U.S. pipeline exports go to Canada's highest-priced destinations in Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces.

The erosion of prices for cross-border pipeline deliveries in both directions confirmed that competition heated up in eastern Canada. 1H2018 ushered in a toll cut for Alberta and British Columbia gas on TransCanada Corp.'s cross-country Mainline.

The period also confirmed that the U.S. has emerged as the North American gas export champion by taking the volume crown away from Canada with pipeline deliveries to Mexico and tanker shipments overseas.

Total U.S. gas exports hit 1.68 Tcf in 1H2018, counting 799.6 Bcf in Mexican sales and 491.4 Bcf in liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargoes. Both emerging U.S. export destinations paid better than Canada. 1H2018 prices averaged US$3.20/MMBtu at the Mexican border and $4.59 for LNG.

Despite losing ground in Canada, the U.S. maintained improved stature as a net exporter of natural gas in 1H2018, with sales in all foreign markets exceeding imports from all sources by 106 Bcf.

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