Cross-border natural gas trade slowed down between Canada and the United States last year, but prices rose for deliveries in both directions, according to annual records kept by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
Canadian pipeline exports dropped by 4.6% to 2.9 Tcf or 8 Bcf/d in 2018, from 3 Tcf or 8.4 Bcf/d in 2017. Average border prices for Canadian gas rose by 1.1% to US$2.52/MMBtu.
U.S. gas merchants fared worse in volumes but better in prices on their side of the trade relationship with Canada, the scorecard compiled by the DOE’s gas regulation division indicated.
U.S. exports to Canada shrank by 8% to 842.4 Bcf or 2.3 Bcf/d in 2018, from 917.1 Bcf or 2.5 Bcf/d in 2017. Average border prices for northbound American gas rose by 9.3% to $3.34/MMBtu in 2018 from $3.06 in 2017.
Lower 48 gas consistently leads in the price columns of the cross-border trade accounts because of differing market structures. U.S. exports go to the highest-priced central Canadian outlets. Canadian exports flow to widely varying markets across the continent.
Canadian exports remain the biggest single item on the cross-border gas scorecard. However, counting shipments to all foreign destinations, the U.S. industry stands out as the North American champion trader by an increasingly wide margin.
Total U.S. gas exports grew by 14.4% to 3.6 Tcf or 9.9 Bcf/d in 2018, from 3.1 Tcf or 8.6 Bcf/d in 2017. The overall 2018 domestic sales performance topped Canada’s 2.9 Tcf by 700 Bcf or 24%.
The U.S. export record in 2018 included a 53% jump in liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipments overseas to 1 Tcf or 3 Bcf/d, and a 10% increase for pipeline deliveries into Mexico to 1.68 Tcf or 4.6 Bcf/d.
The annual average price fetched by U.S. gas at the Mexican border rose by 1% to $3.30/MMBtu in 2018 from $3.26/MMBtu in 2017. Overall price trends are not officially recorded for the more complex, confidential overseas LNG markets.